Written evidence from the Asbestos Victims Support Groups’ Forum UK (HAB0113)


Thank you for your letter and taking on board the points that I made, as well as affording me the opportunity to make further comments.


I would like to reiterate again that we believe that Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit should be a stand-alone benefit. The aim of the benefit does not easily fit with other health related benefits such as PIP and ESA. 


For Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit, Mandatory Reconsiderations work well if the issue in question is a point of law.  However, where the issue is a medical one, the Mandatory Reconsideration rarely changes the decision.  If medical evidence needs to be obtained from GPs or hospitals, 28 days is a relatively short period of time to obtain the evidence.  If evidence is supplied after the Mandatory Reconsideration has taken place and we are awaiting tribunal it is rarely considered even though there is an opportunity for the DWP to do so, under the any time revision rule.


The additional information provided could be sent back to medical services for them to review.  However, instead, once the Mandatory Reconsideration process has passed, the Department then leave it to the tribunal service, which results in long waiting periods for the case to be heard at tribunal.  Our service users are elderly and vulnerable and a number have already died by the time their case gets to tribunal.


There are then further problems at the tribunals.  Forum members often arrive at tribunals and the medical documents on disc are not available.  This does not make sense as the medical services have to obtain the X-rays/disc from the hospital to make a decision in the first place (without the disc there would be an error in law).  However, the discs are not returned to the Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit unit.


If the procedure was such that the disc of records was sent to the tribunal service, this would avoid delays and paperwork in issuing the direction notices and unnecessary adjournments.  Furthermore, hospitals are supplying the same information twice, putting pressure on an already overstretched NHS. 


Here is an example:

Stephen was disallowed Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit in January 2018. The medical information states that the X-ray examination on 6/1/2017 was seen (the original medical was adjourned for the X-ray to be obtained).


On the 31st October 2018 a direction notice by the tribunal service was given for the tribunal to obtain the x-rays and CT scan. (This was before tribunal instructed service users to obtain them). 10/1/2020 the oral hearing at Northampton was adjourned because the X-ray disc could not be opened.


A new disc was obtained at a new oral hearing and was heard on 25/1/22.


If the evidence already obtained by the medical services was readily available to the tribunal, Stephen would not have had to wait 4 years for a hearing. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated case.  In another case we have asked for the disc of medical records following a direction notice and have been told we are 178th on the list, but the evidence should already be readily available. 


I thank you again for the opportunity to speak and to provide additional information.



January 2022