Disability benefit delays 'unlawful' says High Court

The High Court ruled today that a delay in paying benefits to two disabled people was ‘unlawful’.

Two claimants asked the judge to declare that Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith had breached common law and human rights duties to make payments via Personal Independence Payments within a reasonable time.

The two Claimants had been forced to wait for 10 months and 13 months each for their assessments to occur in order to get Personal Independence Payments (PIP). PIP has replaced Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and is a benefit which is meant to cover additional day to day costs for some disabled people.

The judge ruled that the delay was ‘not only unacceptable…but was unlawful’. However, the judge did not find that the Claimants human rights had been breached and also did not rule them to be test cases – meaning that they can not be used as standard examples in future legal cases.

In response to the ruling the Disability Minister Justin Tomlinson praised the ‘huge progress’ made by DWP and said: ‘The court has rightly dismissed the claimants’ absurd suggestion that their human rights had been breached. As a result, they are not entitled to damages.’

Livability ‘s Liz Mell (Director of Operations) said: ‘We are pleased that the High Court has recognised that these delays in the provision of PIP assessments were unlawful. We really hope that it will force the government to act quickly and take some of the strain off the disabled people who are affected. It is good to see waiting times coming down but there are still over 3,000 people who have been waiting for PIP assessments and this number is far too high (http://www.benefitsandwork.co.uk/news/3094-pip-delays-crisis-now-over-claim-dwp).

‘It is important to recognise that the cost of living is likely to rise when you are disabled, so without this money the way you live day to day can be severely limited. As a charity, Livability believes in supporting disabled people to live independently, so we strongly believe that it is important that these kind of failures are eliminated and people are empowered with the freedom to live how they wish.’

Livability were also featured on Premier Christian Radio, which you can listen to and read about here.

PIP has been plagued with problems since it’s initial role out began. In June 2014 the Chair of the Public Accounts Committee Margaret Hodge called the implementation of PIP ‘nothing short of a fiasco’. In February 2014 the National Audit Office produced a report which stated that the DWP had greatly underestimated the time that it would take to process a claim.