An uninformed MP and a bigoted Judge
by Felix McHugh
Sun 31st Mar 2013
Ungrateful as I feel for bashing someone who was actually trying to be helpful, it was difficult not to (a) laugh and then (b) groan at a short letter I recently received from a client’s local MP. Not naming names but this one is often seen on the TV sitting behind Messrs Cameron and Clegg; his/her letter contained the following sentence:
Ms Robinson has informed me that you were in the process of submitting a super sensation application to overturn the decision to put his Robinson in the job related support group.
I think we can take it that his Robinson was a slip of the keyboard but that one short sentence should contain two other howling errors is alarming when we consider that this Member of Parliament voted in favour of the Welfare Reform Bill, which has reduced the incomes of thousands of our poorest citizens, apparently without having any knowledge of the very basics of the benefit system. Has our Tory MP honestly never heard the term “supersession?” Is s/he really unfamiliar with the fact that recipients of Employment and Support Allowance are divided into two categories viz. the Work-Related Activity Group and the Support Group? Besides, a supersession is not an attempt to overturn a decision but a request for a new one based on a change of circumstances. This really is the most fundamental stuff.
While pondering those questions, readers might be interested to learn that at my local venue the proportion of appeals successfully overturning decisions has slightly declined this year; a fact I put down entirely to the introduction of one hopelessly prejudiced new Judge. If you think that makes me sound like a defeated football manager blaming everything on the ref, please consider the following quotes from his statements of reasons for his decisions, all of which were issued in one three-week period:
As the appellant exaggerated her problems, we were quite satisfied that the letters from the appellants’ GP ….. were clearly canvassed by the appellant for the purposes of securing benefit especially as she presented sobbing as she did when commencing the appeal (but did not do so for the remaining 50 minutes).
The involvement of the (Occupational Therapy) service appeared to be motivated by the appellant’s concern for her benefits…..We did not consider that the OT’s report reflected the appellant’s condition….or that it assisted the appellant’s case. On the contrary it demonstrated the appellant’s determination to stay on benefits relying on alleged incapacities. The appellant had exaggerated incapacities in order to obtain benefits.
He used his mother’s unfortunate death as an excuse for his life style…and was a major contributor to the overall unsatisfactory conditions in the home….we accepted that he was upset at his mother’s sad death and social problems in childhood but unfortunately misused the situation for his own ends, using it as an excuse for an alleged mental condition leading to anti-social activity.
Other than wearing a T shirt proclaiming “I hate scroungers” this Judge, foisted on his reluctant superior by the Tribunal Service, could hardly have made his bigotry more evident. His reasoning, (and I think we can discount his use of “we” and replace it with “I”) is that any medical evidence a claimant produces should be discounted on the basis that the claimant asked for it and is therefore motivated solely by the desire to continue malingering on the State. As for the third of the quotes above, I need say no more other than the words used say little or nothing about the claimant but speak volumes about the Judge’s appalling attitude.