Select Committee on Social Security Sixth Report



  8. The two major appeals targets set by the Secretary of State for 1998/99 were: to clear 6,000 appeals; and to have no more than 23 per cent of appeals in progress which were over 260 days. At the end of March the target of having no more than 23 per cent of outstanding appeals more than 260 days old had not been met—the figure was 35.15 per cent.[22] The Agency did clear 6,558 appeals in 1998/99 and reduced the number of appeals in progress from 5,934 at the beginning of the years to 2,686 at the end.[23] This reduction in the number of appeals in progress is to be welcomed. The Agency's supplementary memorandum sought to explain the failure to achieve the target for old appeals:

    "The Agency also reduced the number of old appeals to 944, which exceeded the original estimate of reducing to 1,020 needed to achieve the 23 per cent target. However, because the intake of new appeals was 1,270 below the statistical forecast, and because we cleared 500 more appeals than the 6,000 target, the 944 represented 35.15 per cent of the total of 2,686 appeals outstanding at the end of the year. This missed the 23 per cent target even though the original intent of the target was achieved."[24]

9. The Agency does appear to be making progress in improving the time taken to clear appeals—both old and new. It is unfortunate that the target for the clearance of old appeals did not provide a useful measure of performance. The fact that there are approaching 1,000 appeals which are over a year old does concern us. We recommend that there should be separate targets for old and new appeals, that these targets should be challenging and should be improved year-on-year, and that reducing the time taken to clear appeals should be considered a high priority.

22   Ev. p.40, para. 1.6. Back

23   Ev. p.40, para. 1.5. Back

24   Ev. p.40. para. 1.6. Back

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Prepared 23 June 1999