Examination of Witnesses (Questions 80
WEDNESDAY 25 APRIL 2001
80. At the back of my mind is that we do not
really know whether or not there is a consistency. I have a sneaking
suspicion it might well be that the complaints would be significantly
greater than the percentages you referred to earlier in terms
of six per cent of the people who were appealing.
(Mr Ward) I am not sure there is any evidence to suggest
that the range of complaints we are receiving imply, I think,
there is an issue. There is nothing between us on our desire to
understand better the particular needs of the range of client
groups we deal with. There is absolutely nothing between us on
that. The issue has been quite where I have been able to devote
the resources and attention to which client groups, in which order,
in order to get to the bottom of that activity. We are not there
yet in relation to that particular client group. I would be surprised
if we were not taking specific action during the course of this
year in order to tackle it but I had to decide which client group
I thought most needed attention in the short-term and the figures
in front of me in terms of the nature of the client groups led
me to the conclusion that I ought to prioritise on sickness and
81. You made an assumption when you were talking
about sickness and disability that there would be the same range
of ethnicity in your clients as there would be in the population
as a whole.
(Mr Ward) A generalised assumption.
82. It could well not be true, it might be one
way or the other. It could be that clients of one particular type
were discouraged from appealing or it could be that they ended
up a very large proportion of appellants because of the way that
cases were dealt with originally. I do realise what you are saying
is absolutely accurate, you have got to deal with the clients
who come before you, but there could be some very interesting
statistics in your analysis of those client groups.
(Mr Ward) I would only say we are very interested
in trying to remove any barrier that stops anyone accessing our
service. It does not matter whether it is one individual, 20 per
cent of the client group or 70 per cent.
83. That is the point.
(Mr Ward) The only issue is how quickly can we understand
where the barriers are and how quickly can we tackle them. There
are only so many hours in the day that we are able to tackle it,
but there is no lack of willingness on our part, it is a matter
of where we devote our attention.
Mr King: As Judge Harris said earlier, we will
no doubt return on the issues that were raised with him and I
think this is a serial that will go on as well.
84. We can book Judge Harris before he leaves.
We have really run over our time although we could talk about
this for a lot longer. In fact, it has been very interesting.
Speaking for myself, I think the Committee feels that what you
have told us this morning is encouraging. You have obviously been
through quite a difficult two year period putting this whole thing
on to a new footing, and I think you have done that successfully,
but you will of course understand that we are pushing for further
(Judge Harris) So are we.
Chairman: We recognise that too. If we can continue
a dialogue we would find that very helpful. Thank you very much
again at short notice for your appearance this morning.