MP Julian Huppert has pushed the government to improve decision making on benefits and immigration cases to prevent people going through the stressful and costly appeals process unnecessarily.
He told Parliament yesterday (Tuesday, May 7) that taxpayers face large costs as a result of appeals against decisions made by the Department of Work and Pensions and the Home Office.
The money comes out of the Ministry of Justice budget which has faced significant cutbacks.
As a member of the Liberal Democrats’ Crime and Criminal Justice Working Group, Julian has suggested the MOJ works on a “polluter pays” principle so that the costs of appeals are met by the department that caused them, rather than the Ministry of Justice.
“That would give departments an incentive to make the right decisions. This would save money, but more importantly would reduce the anguish caused by people waiting to hear if they will get the social security payments they need, or if they can stay in the country,” he said.
Justice Minister, Simon Hughes said he found the idea “attractive” and added: “I have not had a formal discussion about it with the Secretary of State, but I imagine that he may instinctively find it attractive as well.
“We certainly expect our colleagues in other departments to make decisions correctly and not to incur costs that will be borne by our department, and hence by the taxpayer, by getting those decisions wrong.
“I shall willingly engage in discussions with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, and with other departments that ought to be bearing the burden of decisions that they got wrong in the first place.”
Later Julian said: “Both the Home Office and the Department of Work and Pensions have clocked up a large number of appeals, many of which they then lose. This causes huge stress and upset for the people who have had to take their cases to appeal and unnecessary delays. At the same time, it puts a burden on the taxpayer and depletes an already overstretched justice budget.
“We need to look closely at the systems in place in both of these departments to see what is going wrong and why so many poor decisions are being made. I am glad the Minister has agreed to take this matter further.”