Court to rule on disabled benefit

Published: Friday 5th June 2015 by The News Editor

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The High Court is to give judgment on complaints that the introduction of vital new welfare benefits for the disabled has been too slow.

A judge was told at a recent hearing that vulnerable people have been forced to turn to loan sharks and food banks because of the “unlawfully long time” taken to provide them with personal independence payments (Pips).

The payments are replacing the disability living allowance (DLA) in sweeping Government reforms of the benefits system. They are designed to help disabled adults meet the extra costs caused by disability.

Two unnamed test case claimants are asking the court to declare that – because of the magnitude of the delay – Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith has breached his common law and human rights duties to make payments within a reasonable time.

Lawyers for the claimants say they are particularly concerned by the delays as the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has acknowledged it is coming to “the difficult period” when it will move 1.75 million people currently receiving DLA over to Pips.

Figures released at the end of March revealed that 3,200 people making new claims had been waiting for more than a year to receive payments.

Lisa Giovannetti QC, representing the claimants, said the delays had led to many people experiencing desperate financial struggles and being forced to borrow from friends or turn to loan sharks because they did not have enough to live on.

The QC told Mrs Justice Patterson at London’s High Court: “People like these cannot be left waiting for months and months and months.”

Justin Tomlinson, minister for disabled people, has issued a statement saying “significant progress” is being made in dealing with claims.

Mr Tomlinson said: “Figures released on 12 March reflect the significant progress made over the past year and show that claims are now being processed at five times the rate they were in January 2014.

“In addition 21% of claimants have been awarded the highest rate, compared to 16% under DLA, demonstrating that the benefit is being targeted at those who need it most.”

Published: Friday 5th June 2015 by The News Editor

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