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Zacchaeus 2000 Trust publishes Disability Benefits system report

The Zacchaeus 2000 Trust (also known as Z2K) is an advice and campaigning charity working across London to solve problems within the social security and welfare benefits system. They provide free advice and support for people across London on issues such as debt, homelessness and disability benefits and campaign for change to improvement government policies relating to poverty and welfare at local and national levels. Their campaigns build on our evidence-based policy research and target injustice at all levels of the social security system.

Z2K have recently published a new report ‘Access Denied: Barriers to justice in the disability benefits system’ – This is new research based on experiences from clients who Zacchaeus 2000 Trust has helped to challenge DWP’s decision to refuse their claim for Employment & Support Allowance (ESA) or Personal Independence Payment (PIP).  These in-depth interviews reveal the harmful consequences of DWP’s poor decision-making and the challenges claimants face in getting those decisions overturned. 

Over the past four years, the advisors and legal volunteers at Z2K have provided advice and representation for over 800 disabled and seriously unwell people at their Tribunal hearing.  Their success-rate at these hearings is currently 88 per cent and they believe other advice agencies statistics are very similar.  Nationally, 70 per cent of people whose claim for was refused by DWP win their appeal against that decision.  Many of those who do win their appeal will have spent months trying to live on much less money than the amount to which they are entitled, and often having to borrow from friends and family just to survive.  Many have also fallen into rent and Council Tax arrears and faced the threat of eviction and bailiffs removing their belongings. 

While these figures are high, we know that only a minority of disabled people whose claim is refused go on to pursue an appeal all the way to the independent Tribunal.  Unlike DWP, we do not believe this is because the other claims are without merit.  Our view is that this is because claimants are ground down by the initial assessment and believe the Mandatory Reconsideration stage to be their actual appeal.  Tens of thousands more claimants would win an appeal if only they had the support to get it to the Tribunal.  Zacchaeus 2000 has long-argued that fundamental changes are needed to the discredited assessment processes for ESA and PIP, and this report also calls for the Mandatory Reconsideration stage to be scrapped as DWP is unwilling to make it a genuinely objective re-assessment.

Find out more about Zacchaeus 2000 Trust here. Read the full report here.