Universal Credit - Failure to provide interpretation facilities

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The Equality Act 2010 says that the DWP has to take reasonable steps to communicate with you if you don’t speak English or Welsh (if you live in Wales).

You’re allowed to bring your own interpreter with you (and, in some cases, the DWP may ask you to) – but if you can’t, you should generally expect the DWP to find you a suitable interpreter.

If the DWP feels that you won’t need an interpreter, they may not provide one (although they should discuss this with you). 

If you’re unhappy with the service you’ve received, you should get in touch via Resolver.

You should know

What can Resolver help with?

You can’t use Resolver to challenge or appeal against a decision for benefits, overpayment, child maintenance or sanctions. 

To challenge or appeal against a decision, you should contact the office that gave you the decision. You can normally find their contact details on your decision letter. If you can’t find your decision letter, contact the office where you applied for the benefit.

You can complain to the DWP about any aspect of the service you’ve received, including:

  • mistakes that have been made
  • unreasonable delays
  • how you’ve been treated
  • not being kept informed

What information should I give?

When you contact the DWP, make sure you include:

your National Insurance number – unless you are an employer

  • your full name, address and contact numbers
  • which benefit you are complaining about
  • what happened, when it happened and how it affected you
  • what you want to happen to put things right.

How long should I wait for a response?

Your first step is to contact the DWP. They’ll try and put things right as soon as possible and may consider making a special payment to you if you’ve been treated unfairly or have suffered financially.

If you’re unhappy with their response, you can escalate your case to a Complaint Resolution Manager. They'll typically try to resolve the matter within 15 working days of contacting you – and they’ll let you know if it’ll take longer.

If they’re unable to resolve the matter, you can escalate your case to a senior manager. They’ll conduct an independent review of your complaint.

Mandatory reconsiderations and appeals are different!

The DWP can't treat a complaint as a challenge to a benefit decision (a request for ‘mandatory reconsideration’) or an appeal against a benefit decision, overpayment decision, child maintenance assessment or sanction.

Read about how to request a mandatory reconsideration of a benefits decision.

You also can’t appeal to the Social Security and Child Support Tribunal about a benefits decision until you get a response to your mandatory reconsideration request. This is called a ‘mandatory reconsideration notice’. You can appeal to the tribunal if you think the decision in the mandatory reconsideration notice is wrong.

Taking things further…

The Independent Case Examiner

The DWP is served by the Independent Case Examiner, an organisation that reviews complaints about certain government organisations that deal with benefits, work and financial support. The Independent Case Examiner acts as an impartial referee for people who feel they’ve been treated unfairly or incorrectly.

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

If things still aren’t sorted after this point, you can contact the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman for guidance! You can ask your MP to forward your complaint to the PHSO, but it’s worth knowing that the PHSO will generally offer guidance and support for most complaints sent their way – even if they haven’t been sent on by an MP.

Be advised that you should do everything you can to resolve the matter with the DWP before escalating your case. Complicated cases may take a while to resolve – make sure you’ve exhausted every possibility before moving on.

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Helping you with Failure to provide interpretation facilities

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