Why I am suing the government

Scales of justice

I receive Disability Living Allowance. DLA provides help for people who are disabled to live a normal life on a more equal footing. DLA provides two components, care and mobility, that pay for carers, cars, wheelchairs, but also taxi fares, pre-prepared food, adaptations for the home, and many more things. I asked people on Twitter what they use their DLA for and you can read their answers on Storify.

The Welfare Reform Act replaces DLA with Personal Independence Payments. Under PIP eligibility for the highest rate of help with mobility has been drastically reduced, from 50 metres to 20 metres and I fall right in the middle of those two. If I do not qualify for the enhanced rate of mobility then the biggest change is that I will no longer be eligible to lease a car from the Motability scheme. That means that I will have to rely on my wheelchair and public transport for every trip to the shops, to the doctor, to the hospital, and that means that every trip will turn into an far longer ordeal of exhaustion and pain that will leave me stuck in bed for hours or days afterwards. It means that I will only go out for the essential trips and will stay isolated the rest of the time and that will affect both my physical and my mental health. DLA is paid to disabled people regardless of whether they work or not, and in fact it enables a lot of people to get to work. If I were ever to return to work then it would be the help from DLA that got me there. Without it, I don’t stand a chance.

I am one of three people, likely to be badly affected by the change, that is taking the government to court and asking for a judicial review to declare the consultation invalid.

Jane Young of wearespartacus.co.uk did a huge amount of work to start the legal action, finding lawyers to take the case pro bono, finding people willing to put themselves in the firing line and put their name to the case. A call for volunteers was made through blogs and social media (Social media being a lifeline for isolated sick and disabled people) and lawyers picked those with the best case from about 50 volunteers. Although I volunteered early on I was not initially involved until one of the other people withdrew for personal reasons. This meant that I was brought in to the process at a late stage and had to rush through the paperwork. Even with a solicitor doing most of the work I had to work with her over the phone to produce my statement and I had to read and sign an awful lot of pages, each of which had to be emailed, printed, signed, scanned and both posted and emailed back because of time constraints. All very draining stuff for a sick person.

Some have criticised us because the legal case focuses on one part of PIP and didn’t cover mental health, among other things. Believe me, if I could have taken the government to task over all the other aspects of PIP I would have done. (Not least because I have mental health problems myself.) As it happens I was in the right place at the right time to take on this particular aspect and so that is what I have done. Unfortunately it isn’t possible to just go to court and tell them that PIP is rubbish, we had to specify exactly how the law was broken and attacking just this one aspect has been a lot of work for the people involved.

If we are successful in the judicial review then the consultation will have to start all over again with the 20 metre limit rather than the 50 metres mentioned in the first consultation. However, given the arrogance of the government I see no reason why they would pay attention to a new consultation any more than they paid attention to the one that they already did. I see this judicial review as a tool to give time to shine a spotlight on the injustice of PIP and bring attention to the arrogance of the government rather than the ultimate goal in itself. I think it will be public pressure that will change this policy, and the judicial review could be instrumental in bringing that about. I believe the best result would be if the government dropped PIP and kept DLA.

My solicitor, Karen Ashton from Public Law Solicitors explained the legal case to BBC West Midlands:

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For the official press release and contact details for enquiries please see my announcement about the case.

UPDATE: The case was heard on the 9th and 10th of July.

Author: Latentexistence

The world is broken and I can't fix it because I am broken. I can, however, rant about it all and this is where I do that when I can get my thoughts together. Most of the time you'll find my words on Twitter rather than here though. I sometimes write for Where's The Benefit too.

17 thoughts on “Why I am suing the government”

    1. I would think many a victim of Tanni Grey _Thompsons paymasters GlaxoSmithKline would like to face her, I,m sure many will know the horrors, deaths, sickness and disabilities GSK have wreaked, from the unborn to the very aged, not to forget the fact T G-T has never condemned Atos and the dogs in the street know why too.

  1. I agree wholeheartedly with your summary of the likely reaction of the gov if the the Judicial review succeeds after all it didn’t make that much difference to those who were put on workfare. Apart from of course putting a spotlight on the programme.

    I too will no doubt be caught out by the change to 20 Meters and am seriously scared about the fact that if my car goes then so does any semblance of independence.

    I’m also being hit by the bedroom tax for having one bedroom to many at a cost of £20 a week which will eat into the money that I am currently getting for DLA. So when I have my DLA/PIP review I will not only lose my independence but my home.

    So I wish you well and thank you and those involved for taking the time, energy and effort to throw a spotlight on this shambolic piece of disability cleansing called Personal Independence Payment!

  2. Steve – correct me if I’m wrong, but I think legal aid will continue for judicial reviews. It’s being stopped for benefits appeals. The reason we had to do it quickly is because the more delay, the more likely the judge is to hold it against us.

    You might want to slightly amend your otherwise excellent post 🙂

    1. I checked with my solicitor and found the source of confusion. There was some urgency because of legal aid, but because it is changing not because it is disappearing for judicial reviews. The other reason for urgency was to get the case filed inside the time limit after the changes were published.

  3. The other day I was listening to BBC Radio 2 about PIP & DLA but it got somewhat side tracked due to Maggie’s death. I was so incensed by some of the comments that I went to their fb page. I am horrified and sicked by some of the comments on there and I have left comments and websites where people can find the truth of what is really happening to the sick and disabled. I thought maybe you should post your statement on there because the BBC and those nasty people, as you probably well know, need to know how catastrophic and life threatening the changes and cuts are for the sick, dying & disabled. You are very brave soul, an inspiration and hero to do this and I salute you and wish every success with your fight against these wrongs by this immoral, corrupt government of ours. xxx ……………. This is the link to the BBC if you feel it’s the right thing to do ,,, https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=657050404306943&set=a.135213933157262.21859.129044383774217&type=1&theater

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