Tag Archives: department of work and pensions

Good news for disabled people as Government gives up fighting PIP decision – maybe

Good news slipped out in a written ministerial statement on a Friday afternoon. New Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Esther McVey announced that the Government would not continue its appeal of a High Court judgement that its changes to entitlements to Personal Independence Payments for those whose mental ill health affected their ability to get around were unlawful. Ms McVey said:

On 21st December 2017 the High Court published its judgment in the judicial review challenge against regulation 2(4) of the Social Security (Personal Independence Payment) (Amendment) Regulations 2017 S.I. 2017/194. The Regulations reversed the effect of the Upper Tribunal judgment in MH.

I wish to inform the House that, after careful consideration, I have decided not to appeal the High Court judgment. My Department will now take all steps necessary to implement the judgment in MH in the best interests of our claimants, working closely with disabled people and key stakeholders over the coming months.

These regulations went through Parliament last March. Liberal Democrat peers did their best to stop them and would have succeeded if Labour had voted with them. As I wrote at the time:

Not for the first time, you have to wonder what the point of the Labour Party in Parliament is. Should they not just go and sit on the Government benches?

LDV reader Matt wrote last year about how he would lose his support for mobility when he moved from Disability Living Allowance to Personal Independence Payments and the life-limiting impact that would have for him:

I hardly ever go outdoors, I tend to only go out when it is for a necessity like going to the doctor, psychologist or hospital and then I need my partner or family member to accompany me to keep me safe and to intervene in the event of me having a psychological episode. I can on very rare occasions manage a trip out to the countryside as long as it is a wide open space and there is nobody else about and I can see any perceived threats well in advance and I am able to escape and get back to the car or home quickly. I have become totally disengaged from society; I cut all ties with friends and former work colleagues many years ago. When I am outdoors, if I am confronted with a possible social interaction my brain starts racing at a million miles an hour. I convince myself they are going to ask me personal questions which will cause me distress. My brain starts running through conversations before they have taken place, it becomes sheer manic and panic, trust me when I say it is pure trauma. When I get home, the only way I can deal with this “psychological distress” is to start self harming and deflect my emotional trauma into a physical trauma as a distraction to escape my thoughts. It is hell.

I worry about these changes to disability benefits, not just for myself, but for people like me who suffer from debilitating mental health disorders who rely on the assistance of others and the welfare state in order to try and live an independent life.

So why do I say that this is good news….maybe. Simply because I don’t trust the Tories with any aspect of our social security system.  What will happen now is that all 164,000 claims affected by this ruling will be reviewed. By rights what should happen is that those affected will get their payments – and backdated, too. 

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 3 Comments

Benefits sanctions: what should happen when guidelines and reality are at odds with each other?

Benefits-welfareBack in April, I wrote about how the overuse of benefits sanctions appeared to be at odds with the Department of Work and Pensions guidance which was actually quite reasonable and gave decision makers some flexibility to take things like poor mental health into consideration.

Both the use and the penalty for even a minor infringement of the rules have been dramatically increased in the last couple of years. It’s worth noting that the minimum period of benefit loss is now 4 weeks. Given that the maximum help you can get from a food bank is 3 days’ food, 3 times a year, you can just imagine how much incredible hardship this can cause. You would think that a decision maker would take very seriously the consequences  of imposing a sanction and only do it when the circumstances were clear cut.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 27 Comments

Julian Huppert MP writes…Let’s bring the “polluter pays” principle to government decision making

imageAll too often Government departments get decisions wrong. Most notorious are the Home Office and the Department of Work and Pensions. Many people will be well aware of the anguish faced by those awaiting Employment and Support Allowance appeals, and the same is true for those waiting to see if they can stay in the country, or bring in a spouse.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 14 Comments

A reply to Matt on welfare by Lib Dem ministers Norman Lamb and Steve Webb: “We believe in standing up for the vulnerable”

This week, Lib Dem Voice published a deeply personal account by one of our readers, Matt: I need the Liberal Democrats to stand up for me when Conservative ministers denigrate me. It was read by many in the party, including two Lib Dem ministers in the Coalition — Norman Lamb MP (Department of Health) and Steve Webb MP (Department for Work and Pensions) — who have co-authored the following response.

lamb and webb

When we read the article posted on Lib Dem Voice on Wednesday by Matt, setting out very personally the distressing and painful experiences he has faced over the past few years in trying to access the welfare and health support he needs, we felt it was important that we respond properly to what he had said.

As Liberal Democrats, we instinctively understand that divisive rhetoric is both unhelpful and inaccurate, and for both of these reasons we should all remain constantly vigilant in challenging those who use this type of language to denigrate any member of our society. We believe in standing up for the vulnerable and providing support to those who are facing personal difficulties in their lives.

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Some positive news on the Work Capability Assessment

One of the most difficult aspects of the welfare reforms for many Liberal Democrat activists to bear was the removal of Employment and Support Allowance after a year from those placed in the Work Related Activity Group. Our anxiety is compounded by what we see as a deeply flawed assessment system which does not take fluctuating conditions seriously. I wrote a critique of the application form earlier this year which explains some of the problems.

The Work Capability Assessment was introduced by Labour in 2008.  The Coalition has improved it under the guidance of Professor Malcolm Harrington, but not to …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , , and | 20 Comments
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