Author Archives: Matt

Time to scrap disability assessments and bring them in house

With each month passing there is more and more evidence that now is the time to bring an end to the failed DWP disability assessments and private outsourcing by companies such as Maximus and Capita and bring all assessments in house.

Appeal success rates for those that go to tribunal  for both Personal Independence Payment and Employment and support allowance are at their highest rates ever, with success rates of 73% for Pip and 74% for ESA. This is an increase of 4% and 5 % respectively.

At the same time, waiting times for mandatory reconsiderations, which a claimant has to go through before appealing to a tribunal has increased by 86%. Average waiting times for a reconsideration have increased from 32 days to 54 days. This leaves many sick and disabled people in a severe financial hardship. This is totally unacceptable and is it any wonder that the use of food banks is at an all time high. The success rate of PIP Mandatory reconsiderations stands at a measly 19%. That is 2 opportunities that the DWP has had to get an assessment correct and fail and nearly three quarters of those people who go on to appeal are successful at tribunal. This is simply unsustainable, on top of the human suffering that this costs, there is the financial costs to the DWP and the justice department all because the private healthcare assessment providers and the DWP are failing to do their jobs. The system is broken.

There is also evidence of a canteen culture of contempt  at the DWP. In official tribunal papers for a woman’s appeal to Personal Independance Payments by a welfare official for the department of work and pensions, they wrote

In this lying bitches case she is receiving the mid-rate carers allowance component for providing day time supervision to another disabled person. The tribunal may wish to explore this further.

 

The mother of small children has a degenerative condition affecting her heart and lungs that leaves her prone to infection and in constant pain. 

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , , and | 41 Comments

High Court rules that 2017 changes to PIP regulations are discriminatory

The High Court has found that part of the rules governing Personal Independence Payments are unlawfully discriminatory against people with mental health impairments.

The Public Law Project’s client, RF, won on all three grounds of her challenge (RF v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions). 

The judge quashed the 2017 Personal Independence Payment (PIP) Regulations because they discriminate against those with disabilities in breach of Human Rights Act 1998 obligations. Because they were discriminatory, the judge also found that the Secretary of State did not have lawful power to make the Regulations (i.e. they were “ultra vires”), and that he should have consulted before making them, because they went against the very purpose of what PIP regime sought to achieve.

The judge heard that the Regulations were laid by negative resolution in February 2017, received relatively little parliamentary attention, and were rushed through the parliamentary process by the Secretary of State without prior reference to checks by relevant committees.  Contrary to the Secretary of State’s defence, the judge found that the decision to introduce the Regulations was ‘manifestly without reasonable foundation’ and commented that the wish to save money could not justify such an unreasonable measure.

During the course of the trial, the Secretary of State accepted that the testing carried out for PIP had not looked at whether the basis for treating those with psychological distress differently was sound or not, and the testing actually done was limited. 

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 12 Comments

Changes to Disability Benefits and the Government’s blasé attitude to psychological distress.

Last month the Government announced that it was going to be tightening the criteria for claimants of Personal Independence Payments (PIP) which would see those people with mental illnesses stuck without the vital support that they need. The Government has introduced these restrictions after losing two cases at tribunals.

The Tribunal ruled that someone who is unable to undertake a journey without assistance from another person due to psychological distress should be scored in the same way as a person who needs assistance because they have difficulty navigating. Rather than accepting the ruling of the courts, the Government decided to change the legislation and the descriptors to exclude people suffering from some mental health disabilities by inserting the following into the legislation and the descriptors, “for reasons other than psychological distress”.

The Government produced its own analysis of which claimants and conditions are likely to be affected by these changes, 

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 23 Comments

Opinion: I need the Liberal Democrats to stand up for me when Conservative ministers denigrate me

I want to share with you how I feel when Conservative government ministers talk about welfare claimants in disparaging terms. I hope that I can bring a bit of understanding about the problems people like me face.

Before I begin, I should give a trigger warning for rape, self harm and sexual abuse. The details are upsetting but I feel you need to know the whole story.

I was raped and abused as a child every single week for 12 years. On numerous occasions I would wake to find myself being raped and suffocated by my abuser, who was later imprisoned for …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 64 Comments
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