ICE UNDERFUNDING CAUSING COMPLAINT BACKLOG

21st March 2019

TORIES’ REFUSAL TO FUND ICE HINDERING COMPLAINTS INVESTIGATION AND WELFARE IMPROVEMENT

Motherwell and Wishaw MP, Marion Fellows, has written to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Amber Rudd, to demand an increase in funding for the Independent Case Examiner to end the growing backlog of cases.

ICE, which is funded by the DWP, investigates complaints once all DWP avenues are exhausted and can make recommendations.

ICE aims to inform 90% of complainants of the acceptance or denial of their case within four weeks. Written questions revealed that in 2018/2019, only 60% of complaints met that target. Complaints not accepted within the four week target wait an average of 15 weeks.

ICE has been underperforming in all areas including resolving, settling, and reporting cases. In 2016/2017, 86% of claims were resolved within the target of 8 weeks. In 2018/2019, this dropped to 68%. Complaints not resolved within the eight week target, wait an average of 11 weeks.

Similarly, in 2016/2017, 87% were settled within the target of 15 weeks, dropping to only 81% in 2018/2019. For the cases not settled within the timetable, the average wait increased to 23 weeks.

Mrs. Fellows wants to decrease ICE waiting times and is calling for ICE to be better supported through increased funding and staffing.

Commenting, Mrs. Fellows said:

“The Tories’ refusal to properly fund ICE demonstrates just how little the Tories care about the unemployed, people with disabilities, and pensioners. ICE requires a cash injection to ensure it can do its job effectively.

“The backlog is heightening uncertainty for people complaining and limiting ICE’s ability to offer recommendation on improving the welfare system.

“People have already gone through the DWP complaint process without attaining a resolution, only to go through another complaint process with no end in sight. “The Tories’ welfare policy has exacerbated existing problems and forced people to turn to ICE when the DWP has failed them. It’s clear the Tories are not interested in improving the DWP and its policies. “