In a challenge before the General Regulatory Chamber this week we have been successful in appealing a recent finding by the Information Commissioner (ICO). The ICO had previously upheld a decision by the Department for Communities not to provide us with statistics relating to social security appeals.
It is important that detailed statistics on appeals against social security decisions by the Department for Communities are published annually to highlight the volume of appeals being dealt with, as well as the outcomes. This would also highlight where the system could be improved. We know from the statistics, for example, that you are more likely to be successful at your social security appeal if you attend the hearing and if you have legal representation.
Owen McCloskey, who is Law Centre NI’s Head of Social Security, said:
“We are really pleased that the Tribunal has allowed our appeal. It is vital that statistics are reported in an open and transparent way in order to encourage improved access to justice.”
Following the successful appeal at tribunal, we ask that the Department for Communities publish this data on an annual basis. We are also seeking specific statistics over the last two years as there is vital opportunity to learn from people’s experiences accessing justice during the pandemic. We hope to publish these in due course.
The decision can be accessed here.