. Nice work indeed | London Progressive Journal
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Nice work indeed

Sat 25th Feb 2012

The current session fees are:
a) Tribunal Judge (Chair) - £218;
b) Medically Qualified Member - £155 (rising to £185.50 after the member has sat for 20 sessions in the financial year);
c) Some panels may include a member with experience of a particular disability who is paid £96 per session

The above is the response to my Freedom of Information request regarding the fees paid to Social Security appeal tribunal members. If you have read my ramblings before you will already know that I have reservations about some of the tribunal members I encounter week by week, so it's interesting to find out how much they get paid for all those wearily familiar observations about perching stools, slotted spoons and lengths of football pitches.

So the doctor who suggested that the distance my client walked to cross the road in a local housing estate was a highly unlikely seventy yards received £185.50, while the "member who has experience of a particular disability" got £96 for her patently unfair questions about how my client managed to get from the hospital car park to the Pain Management Clinic. It's nice work if you can get it, for sure, and since I see the same faces week in week out, it is obvious that the owners of those faces are doing very well out of it. Next time I request an adjournment and the Judge points out that allowing my request would be an expensive waste of time I think I'll respond by making it clear that it's their time, rather than mine, that is so expensive. Compared to what the tribunal members receive, they get my services on the cheap.

From now on, I shall also be even more reluctant to agree to change the time of an appointment for the tribunal's benefit, since it's my view that if they are being paid between £96 to £218 they can damn well stay till 5 o'clock.

Now, you might think I am being a tad harsh here. Appeals commence at 10am so if someone gets an hour for lunch and then stays till 5pm, and receives £96 for six hours work, then that works out at £16 an hour; still not bad but maybe not enormously generous (even though they frequently knock off at about half past three). That might be a point for debate, were it not for the fact that a "session" actually consists of only half a day, so a wing member who sits in the morning and then again in the afternoon will be paid a minimum of £192 as well as receiving the privilege of being given licence to patronise the usually petrified claimants and to attempt to trick them into giving self-damning answers to confusing questions, which usually simply aim to confirm the member's own prejudices.

Medical members like the dreadful Dr Holiday go back to their nice homes with at least £310 as well as the undoubtedly comforting feeling of class superiority which tends to characterise their approach to the entire process. Judges themselves are a mixed bunch; some I respect, some I do not; some I feel a personal liking for, while others would not be allowed across the doorstep of my house; some of them are fair and well-informed, while others are badly-prepared and incapable of hiding their snobbery, but I am quite prepared to say that, in the opinion of this particular welfare rights worker, none of them are worth £436 per day of taxpayers' money.

The FoI response came on the same day as the news that, as public sector workers, my colleagues & I are to receive a pay rise of 0 per cent for the third successive year. Ah well. Maybe we are expected to be grateful that we receive any remuneration at all given the scandal of the free workers being provided from the dole queue to help such needy small businesses as Tesco, Argos and Waterstone's; not forgetting, best of all, Emma Harrison's company A4E, who have been found to have employed unpaid workers at their own office while being paid millions of pounds of our money to help these same poor souls into paid jobs.

For more on 21st century slavery in the UK I recommend this:
http://johnnyvoid.wordpress.com/2012/02/21/meet-the-job-snobs-whos-out-of-workfare-and-whos-still-in/
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