I am one of three people asking for a Judicial Review over the consultation for Personal Independence Payments.
The request for a judicial review is on the basis that the Department for Work and Pensions did not conduct a proper consultation for PIP and if we are successful then they will be ordered to start the consultation again. If a judicial review is granted than it should take place sometime in July.
The initial consultation for PIP used inability to walk 50 metres to define eligibility for the enhanced rate of mobility component. That is, anyone who could not walk 50 metres without the use of a wheelchair would get highest rate of the benefit. After the consultation ended it emerged that the goalposts had been moved, and that the cut-off point for high-rate mobility would be just 20 metres. Those who can walk more than 20 metres but less than 50 metres safely, reliably and repeatedly may qualify for a lower rate of the benefit.
We will be arguing that the DWP were required to consult on such a fundamental change and that they did not provide adequate information during the consultation that did take place. We will also argue that the DWP failed in their duty under the Equality Act 2010 to assess the impact of the new regulations on disabled people.
This change will affect me personally, albeit probably not until 2015 when those whose DLA has not already run out will be transferred to PIP. Those who receive the high-rate of mobility allowance under DLA are eligible to lease a car from the Motability scheme. If this requirement is kept with PIP then as someone who can usually walk more then 20 metres but not 50 metres without pain pain and exhaustion I will lose the high-rate mobility component and will therefore lose the car that restores much of my freedom and independence.
Public Law Solicitors are taking action on my behalf while Leigh Day are representing the two others involved in this case.
Press are welcome to contact me by email on latentexistence at gmail dot com or through the contact link at the top of this blog.
More information will be at www.wearespartacus.org.uk
Press release from Public Law Solicitors / Leigh Day 08/04/2013
Lawyers have announced that they are taking legal action against the Government on behalf of three disabled clients who are challenging the decision by Ian Duncan Smith, the Secretary of State for Work and pensions, to bring in more stringent measures to qualify for the higher rate mobility benefit which the Government has estimated will result in 400,000 fewer people being eligible to claim.
The three clients currently receive disability living allowance (DLA) including the higher rate of the mobility component. This non-means-tested cash benefit has been available since 1992 and provides people with assistance towards the costs of an adapted car, powered wheelchair or scooter through the Motability scheme.
Under DLA a person is entitled to the higher rate of the mobility component if they are ‘unable or virtually unable to walk’. Usually claimants are considered to be ‘virtually unable to walk’ if they cannot walk more than around 50 metres.
The new Social Security (Personal Independence Payment) Regulations 2013 (PIP) have reduced this benchmark distance to 20m.
Kim Storr has rheumatoid arthritis and other severe progressive conditions and her mobility is affected by joint swelling and pain. She relies on crutches. She currently receives DLA including the higher rate of the mobility component. Ms Storr needs an adapted vehicle to enable her to go out independently.
Steven Sumpter has ME, which has caused him increasing mobility problems. He can walk short distances with a stick, but is otherwise dependent on a wheelchair. He was assessed as eligible for the higher rate of the mobility component of DLA last year, which he has used to lease a Motability car.
The third claimant is protected by an anonymity order to protect their identity.
Law firms Leigh Day and Public Law Solicitors argue that a consultation process set up by the Government to reassess the benefit was flawed. The Secretary of State did not consult on the proposal that the limit would be reduced to 20 metres. This suggestion was only introduced after all the consultation stages had passed.
Consultees were therefore denied the opportunity to comment on the proposal or to explain to the Secretary of State how such a restriction to the benefit will affect them and their independence.
The 50 metres distance is widely recognised in relation to other disability benefits and in guidance on the built environment, to represent a minimum functional level of mobility.
Proceedings have been issued against the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Ian Duncan Smith, claiming that the new regulations regarding the PIP payment are flawed and unlawful. They argue the policy-making process failed to properly consider the practical impacts the withdrawal of the benefit will have on people with significant mobility impairments.
Rosa Curling, from the Human Rights team at Leigh Day who is representing two of the disabled clients said:
“We have advised our clients that the consultation undertaken by the Secretary of State was unlawful. People were not properly informed that the limit might be reduced to 20 metres and had no opportunity to provide the Secretary of State with their views on this proposal.
“Removing this vital benefit to disabled people will have a devastating effect on many people’s lives and their ability to access and be part of our communities. The Secretary of State has a legal obligation to consider such impacts before deciding whether to limit access to this benefit.”
Karen Ashton from Public Law Solicitors who represents Mr Sumpter, said:
“What is at the heart of this legal challenge is fairness. The extra costs of getting out and about for those who have severe mobility problems can be huge. The higher rate mobility benefit can make the difference between being able to do everyday things that everyone else takes for granted – such as doing your own shopping and visiting friends and relatives – and only leaving the house for absolutely essential appointments. But the Government failed to mention the reduction to the 20m threshold in their consultations with disabled people and so those who are potentially affected have not had the chance to explain how devastating the consequences will be.”
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