PIP judicial review: Court rules against us but vindicates our case

We lost. The judge ruled that in the end the consultation process for PIP was not unfair.

However that is not the whole story. You see, the judge found that it was the second consultation that made things right. The first consultation, he had some harsher words for. Words such as:

“Unfortunately mind-bogglingly opaque.” (Paragraph 105 part ii)
“At best ambivalent” (Paragraph 105 part vii)
“Convoluted, inherently unclear, ambiguous and confusing.  No construction allows for full coherence.” (Paragraph 106)

Not exactly a ringing endorsement of the way the government chose to do things, I think you’ll agree.  The government’s legal team also agreed, and in fact they have accepted that they must share a portion of the costs of this judicial review in the face of evidence that it was indeed justified.

Not only that, but the government made it perfectly clear that they know exactly how much their policies will hurt people but want to do it anyway.

“… [T]his was recognised from the outset.  In developing the PIP assessment we were aware that the vast majority of recipients of DLA were individuals with genuine health conditions and disabilities and genuine need, and that removing or reducing that benefit may affect their daily lives.  However, we believe that these impacts can be justified as being a logical result of distributing limited resources in a different and more sustainable way…”.
(Paragraph 80)

Let’s see that again:

we were aware that the vast majority of recipients of DLA were individuals with genuine health conditions and disabilities and genuine need, and that removing or reducing that benefit may affect their daily lives.”

And again:

“genuine need”

So we have the government’s lawyers arguing that the DWP and the government ministers know full well that they are removing vital support from hundreds of thousands of people who have few other options and who will suffer as a result. And they are doing it to save money.

The judge agreed with the DWP that taking money from physically disabled people to allocate to other PIP claimants achieves “substantive equality between physically and non-physically disabled.” I argue that this has reduced the equality of physically disabled people compared to not-yet-disabled people, purely because of budget.

This is Lowest common denominator equality.

This is your government. This is what the society that we live in is prepared to accept.

The court’s findings and what’s next

The judge was persuaded by Dr Bolton’s evidence that the government could have changed their decision had they decided to listen to the overwhelming opposition to the 20m rule in the second consultation, and so it was not unfair. My legal team and I disagree. We still argue that the decision had long since been made and that the secretary of state had a closed mind by this point, and so the second consultation was not at a formative stage.

Although the judgment went against us I feel that the judge’s analysis of the first consultation is vindication for our bringing this case to court. Don’t forget that the second consultation only came about after this case was given permission to proceed and the DWP realised that they could not get away with such a shambles.

I hope that the admission by the government that they know exactly what they are doing will make people wake up to what is happening. Meanwhile, this is not the end. The legal team and I are considering our options to appeal this result.

Press Release from Public Law Solicitors

PIP Consultation Judicial Review Press Release

Read the full judgment

PIP consultation judicial review starts today

Two weeks until PIP Judicial Review – 20 metre limit in the dock

Replacement of disability living allowance headline news for hours

Why I am suing the government

Iain Duncan Smith: “Disabled staff sit around drinking coffee all day”

Sunday Express cover 6/5/12

The Sunday Express has reported that Iain Duncan Smith claimed disabled staff “sit around drinking coffee all day” and said that former Remploy staff should “get a proper job”. The Express continues:

In a tirade campaigners later branded “unbelievable arrogance”, he stormed: “Is it a kindness to stick people in some factory where they are not doing any work at all? Just making cups of coffee?

“I promise you this is better. Taking this decision was a balance between how much do I want to spend keeping a number of people in Remploy factories not producing stuff versus getting people into proper jobs.”

To be honest, IDS’s hateful words don’t surprise me much. He seems to think that disabled people are lazy, or that their jobs at Remploy are somehow fake because they are subsidised. How he can think this when Remploy produce all sorts of things including DWP computer systems, I don’t know.

If IDS represents the mythical “Compassionate Conservative” then I don’t think he has a very good idea of what compassion actually is. His concepts of how poor, sick or disabled people live and what their motivations are is rooted in the security of a privileged wealthy background and is entirely detached from reality. Most people who receive benefits don’t want to be dependant on them. They would much rather have a job, with their own earned income, free from the stigma and the interference by the state and able to make their own choices. The staff at Remploy are not somehow faking their jobs and lazing around making coffee, they have real jobs producing real products and services.

It’s not as though there are jobs for the taking anyway, even those who are not disabled cannot find work. There are millions of unemployed people who don’t have prejudice against their disability keeping them out of most of the jobs that are available anyway.

Iain Duncan Smith has no excuse for his words. His background may have led to his disablist prejudist views but he has lived long enough and been told often enough to know that his views are wrong. When even the Express can see that what he has said is wrong and offensive, Iain Duncan Smith should resign and apologise.