Dec 212017
 

Today, the 21st  of December, the High Court judge Mr Justice Mostyn allowed the claim in the case of RF v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. The case was brought by a Disabled person with mental health support needs to challenge the changes the government made to Personal Independence Payment Regulations in March 2017[i].

These changes were urgently introduced to reverse the impact of the Upper Tribunal Judgement in the case of MH v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (PIP): [2016] UKUT 531[ii] 

These changes prevent thousands of people who cannot plan and follow a journey due to psychological distress from qualifying for higher rates of this benefit or qualifying at all[iii].

The Public Law Project, who represented RF argued in court that the changes are discriminatory and unlawful, because they go against original policy intent of PIP[iv].

 

The court said today that the regulations were discriminatory, and they have been quashed but it won’t take affect until the court of appeal decides the government can appeal

Tracey Lazard, CEO of Inclusion London  said:

“This is a hugely important case.  It challenges the discriminatory way the government treats Disabled people with mental health support needs.  The outcome can make a difference to thousands upon thousands of Disabled people.  We have always believed that these changes are discriminatory and unfair and should have never been introduced. It is incomprehensible that the government pledges more support for people with mental health support needs and at the same time introduces, through the back door regulation changes  that prevent many thousands of Disabled people with mental health support needs from qualifying for this essential benefit.

The government’s actions to change PIP regulations and single out people who cannot travel because of psychological distress are a brutal attack on the rights of Disabled people.  Today’s case illustrates the lack of concern for Disabled people and the government’s inability to listen to us and engage with us.  It is extremely worrying that many of us feel the legal action is the only way for us to get heard”.

Linda Burnip, co-founder of Disabled People Against Cuts said:

“We are pleased with the judgement today. It will make a huge difference for thousands of Disabled people with mental health support needs.

We have to remember that this challenge is taken in a context when the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities found systematic and grave violations of Disabled people’s rights a year ago.  And again in August it called the situation Disabled people are in a ‘human catastrophe’.  The UN specifically called on the Government to repeal changes to PIP regulations because they breach our human rights under the Convention”.

 

[i] Personal Independence Payment is a new benefit which replaced Disability Living Allowance for Disabled working-age claimants.  The purpose of the benefit is to compensate for extra costs of disability.  Eligibility for PIP is a points-based system where points are assigned to descriptors illustrating the difficulties person experiences in carrying out specific activities.

[ii] See the judgement here https://www.gov.uk/administrative-appeals-tribunal-decisions/mh-v-secretary-of-state-for-work-and-pensions-pip-2016-ukut-0531-aac

 

[iii] The Government’s own Equality Impact Assessment stated that changes will prevent 164000 people from current PIP caseload from qualifying, 143.000 of those people will be prevented from qualifying at all.  https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/593392/pip-assessment-criteria-equality-analysis.pdf

Inclusion London supported the case from the start and provided a witness statement.

[iv] Statements made by the Government prior to 2014 as well as the Government’s 2012 Response to the consultation on PIP clearly express the intention of PIP to assess need rather than make decisions on the basis of impairment labels.

Statement from PLP

Statutory Instrument Quashed by the High Court

2017 Personal Independence Payment 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. 

RF’s claim was supported by The National Autistic Society, Inclusion London, Revolving Doors and Disability Rights UK. All of those organisations gave statements to the court that the Regulations were unfair and that the intention to treat those with psychological distress differently had not been made clear in the early PIP consultation stages. The claim was also supported by two interveners: Mind and the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC). The EHRC made written submissions to the Court on the ongoing and persistent breaches by the UK Government of its obligations under UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities arising from its austerity measures. The Judge found that this inconsistency with the UN Convention supported his finding that the measure had no objective justification.

RF commented: “This judgment is important for a community of people with mental health problems fighting for their lives against discrimination.”  

Note to Editors:

The case was previously known as SM and RF, but is now known as RF v Secretary of State for Department of Work and Pensions. There is an anonymity order in place protecting SM and RF.

The Government intends to appeal the decision. The Regulations will not be quashed until the Court of Appeal decides whether or not the appeal should proceed. RF is anticipating a decision on this in early 2018.

 A digital version of the decision will be available shortly here: https://www.judiciary.gov.uk/judgments/

Further enquiries can be made to o.persey@publiclawproject.org.uk.

[suffusion-the-author]

[suffusion-the-author display='description']
 Posted by at 10:58

  26 Responses to “Big legal victory for Disabled people: the DWP’s changes to PIP regulations were declared unlawful today”

  1. My name is Carol. Diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2010. Have been on esa support group since but was refused Pip after being on the old dla and had a tribunal was still refused for going on hols for my 60th for 4 days with my family. Was afraid to take any further incase they stopped my esa. Was told this !!!!!!

  2. Can sumome explain to me what this me just I have learning disabilities I’ve tried to understand but a don’t of sumone can tell me please thank x

  3. So, does this mean that I along with a vast number of disabled people who’ve signed https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/mental-health-disability-benefit-assessments will now get the regime to backdate shaking their “magic money tree?” No, thought not. WMD and war is far sexier.

  4. I have Put in for the pip three time and been knock back I have copd , debatic on solostar injections & tablets , incontinence , arthritis in my legs , I am on inhale fattie liver I am pain killers 3 a day I am in so pain because with fatty liver I can not take any more pain killers I am depression because I not take tablet for it

  5. I have menth health and my pip stop I can be left on my own

  6. This evil has to stop government or murderingt the disabled lam sorry Teresa may but you say you or a Christian you should be a shame of your self please God stop this evil tory government NOW amen

  7. I suffer from cyclothymia (mild bi polar ) p.t.s.d severe anxiety and emotionally unstable personality disorder ! My I now have been diagnosed with m.e fibromyalgia…i went for an assessment and I was told I scored 0 points in budgeting although I’m 30,000 in debt and linked in with c.a.b for help.ive had over 100 parking tickets due to panic attacks in car parks etc due to childhood trauma. I have problems with concentration and my mood is erratic.im appealing but need some support .been in tears today I feel let down 🙁

  8. My D.L.A finishes in may 2018 which i have to renew to the new P.I.P i have bi-polar and dissociative disorder.
    Im so frightened off losing my D.L.A its making me ill already just thinking about it.
    If i need a interview and i cant go? I will lose everything…

  9. It sounds good / better but is it?

  10. My name is Tanya ford.I list my pip appeal 3 weeks ago for mh.was on DLA indefinite.not good

    • I had my DlA stopped, went for mandatory reconsideration I too was on DLA indefinite. I such you get hold of your nearest welfare office and launch an appeal I have done.

  11. I was awarded the enhanced rate for daily care needs for PIP but nothing for mobility even though I am diagnosed with Plantar Faciitis & so I have to linit how much walking I do. My worker at the C.A.B. told me not to bother challenging this decision because I can walk. Was he right or should I appeal the decision regarding mobility? Kind Rgds Patricia Monksfield.

  12. Well i was diagnosed with cancer in march, they said at first i was fit for wrk so appealed got a letter just last week to say i can have PIP but will not back date my claim

  13. In June 2015 i was awarded by tribruneral that I could not walk more than 50 metre which put in the rate of disability when my award came through in Dec 2015 the government had sneakily change the rules to 20 metres so I was only awarded lower rate payment?

  14. Does this also include people who suffer with epilepsy???
    My son has epilepsy and suffers with mental health
    He does not qualify for mobility according to the PIP,he gets really tired if he walk for along period of time his limbs just give in . It’s about time government took people serious who have all sorts of life time disabilities.

    • There was an upper tribunal ruling recently which covers epilepsy. If you have a look around, you should find it fairly easily. The DWP are allegedly contacting claimants who are affected. It was related to how damaging the episode could be, rather than the frequency of the episodes.

  15. I have crohns disease and was not given it because I knew what medication I took it’s a absolute joke when people with this illness that I know was granted money so unfair got a job to get out of bed some days

  16. I had to go court for basic pip. I can’t stand for long.

  17. let hope they listen to to the disabled people I am proundfully deaf have non epileptic attack disorder but lost my pip I am appealing also I ‘ve leading disbiltes.

  18. We the disabled are fighting them and kicking them where it hurts.

  19. No doubt Tories will appeal and squirm out ofpaying what should be rightful again

  20. Using a hand rail to help me walk and a walking stick means that i can walk more then 20metres. Then they lose my appeal as the person leave the job but never hands it over. But am i the one losing money .

  21. I believe I have suffered the same as the disabled person mentioned I had all my mobility taken away for exactly the same reason. Can I get help from anyone to see if I have a valid claim.

    • Did you keep your original decision? Look on that. You could submit a delayed Mandatory Reconsideration in lieu of this court decision.

  22. Great result. Here’s hoping there is no appeal to the CA

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