Bob Ainsworth has been informed by HM Courts and Tribunal Service (HMCTS) that there is currently an average wait of 55 weeks for an Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) appeal to be heard in Coventry.
In a letter sent to Bob, HMCTS confirmed that “it takes an average of 55 weeks from when an appeal was made ready to list before it is heard before a tribunal judge”. They went on to confirm that they were only just “listing” appeals from October 2011.
The Government had previously provided assurances that they were taking action to reduce appeal waiting times in Coventry, but these figures show that ESA appeal times are increasing rather than decreasing. In June 2012 the average ESA appeal time stood at 37.8 weeks, it is now 55 weeks; an increase of 17 weeks since June.
“These timescales are completely and utterly unreasonable, particularly when you are dealing with some of the most vulnerable people in society.
“In spite of all the Ministerial assurances I have received that action is being taken to reduce waiting times in Coventry, it seems the opposite is true and appeal waiting times are increasing rather than decreasing.
“This is an extremely worrying situation and I have therefore written to Helen Grant MP, Justice Minister, to ask what additional steps the Government will take to tackle appeal waiting times in Coventry that are persistently higher than the national average and remain an intractable problem.
“It is clear that the Government need to do more to resolve the problems of an appeals system that appears to have reached breaking point”.