UPDATE and legal info:
In a great start (for us) to Esther McVey’s appointment as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, she has had to concede the PIP legal challenge. As of 20 Jan 2018, the government dropped the discriminatory rules which stop claimants with mental distress from scoring full points for mobility needs, compared to claimants who are physically disabled. McVey announced a review of PIP claims where up to 220,000 claimants could benefit – more than the 164,000 estimated by Mind.
In a sometimes laughable statement (below), she said: “Although I and my Department accept the High Court’s judgement, we do not agree with some of the detail contained therein. Our intention has always been… to provide the best support to claimants with mental health conditions.” !!
Click to her House of Commons statement.
Debbie Abrahams, Labour’s Shadow minister for Work and Pensions, objected to the original rule change and is critical of PIP assessments generally.
The woman bringing the challenge told us:
“It was quite a surprise! It’s a massive weight lifted, I never thought beyond the case and once we started talking appeals it felt a bit never-ending. I’m so pleased for all affected by it, and ultimately it’s been good for me too, I feel a bit like if I can stand up to the government, what can’t I do. I don’t mean that in a glib way, life is tough. I just feel OK with that right now, I know I can do things that are really hard and be OK. Thank you so much for the support, it really meant a lot, it felt a very lonely process at times.”
In support, WinVisible called the joint vigil with DPAC and MHRN on 12 December 2017 outside the High Court and some of us attended both days of the hearing in court. The vigil was supported by Maggie Zolobajluk with her names banner, WISH which supports women with mental distress in the criminal justice system, and many more.
The government also won’t fight the previous case of MH, about the mobility needs of claimants with mental distress. MH’s win at tribunal is what prompted them to react by changing the rules.
Sara Lomri from the Public Law Project which brought the case, summarised the legal position: As of 20 January 2018, Regulation 2(4) from the 2017 Regulations is quashed and the original 2012 Regulation on planning and following a journey stands. The MH judgement also still stands, so those with psychological distress can be considered for all descriptors in planning and following journeys (Activity 11).
We want to know if anyone in this situation is left out of the review. If organisations know of people left out after this win, they should contact us and Ms Lomri at The Public Law Project.
We must also be vigilant against benefit cuts they want to make to counteract this success. Claimants who all have needs must not be pitted against each other.