Thursday, 3 June 2010

Delays at PINS

If you have some appeals in the pipe-line, as I have, you will be aware of the delay in fixing hearings and site visits, despite a reduction in the number of appeals being handled by PINS.

My sources tell me that this has occurred for a number of reasons . A significant factor is the advent just over a year ago of the new fast-track Householder Appeals service. The target of determination within 8 weeks seems to be paramount, and other appeals are being bounced to ensure that this target is met. This suggests to me that, as I predicted in a post on this blog in April 2009 (see the archive), the shortened appeal period for householder appeals has led to a significant increase in those appeals, as it did when the appeal period was reduced generally a few years ago.

The delay is additionally blamed on ‘budget constraints’ which are preventing the deployment of extra Inspectors to deal with the backlog. PINS has on its books a number of retired Inspectors who are available to work part-time on a contract basis and would be willing to do so, instead of which they are sitting at home twiddling their thumbs because the powers that be don’t have the budget to pay them to take on the appeals backlog.

There is much grumbling in the ranks as Inspectors are coming up to retirement and then being effectively thrown on the scrap-heap when they would be only too willing to carry on working as part-time contract inspectors. These are extremely experienced men and women who would be capable of tackling almost any type of appeal and could be a valuable resource for PINS if properly deployed.

Meanwhile, my frustrated clients have to wait for site visits or hearing dates while the bean-counters continue to turn the screw. And that was before the £6-billion ‘efficiency’ savings announced by the Chancellor early last week. It can only get worse.


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