Department for Work and Pension’s Secretary, Esther McVey told angry MPs that up to 220,000 with mental health conditions the High Court said are entitled to back payments of Personal Independence Payment (PIP), will have to wait until “after summer”, until they receive anything.
Updating MPs on the 4th of June, the Work and Pensions Secretary said the first of those back payments will only come “at the end of the summer”.
Ms McVey did not specify which month. Previous guidance to MPs had said the first back payments would come in “summer 2018”. Ms McVey made the admission after a question by Labour MP Luciana Berger, who complained:
“Six months later there’s still no confirmed timetable for when that High Court judgement will be implemented in full, and back payments made to those people affected.”
Ms McVey then reply appearing to try and justify the length of time it has taken to look over the claims.
“We have been making new guidance, consulting with stakeholders on… how to work through that. The first payments will begin at the end of the summer.
“Having to assess all those number of people will take, and has taken a bit of time.
“But it has been thorough, it’s been correct, and the first of those payments will start at the end of the summer.”
The row is all about a 2016 tribunal ruling, which said people who suffer “overwhelming psychological distress” when travelling alone, should qualify more easily for PIP. At first, the DWP tried to change the law to avoid obeying the tribunal.
High Court stands up for mental health sufferers
But after an outcry by mental health charities, and a claimant and charities taking the government to court, the High Court ruled the government’s behaviour was “blatantly discriminatory”.against people with mental health problems and are in breach of their human rights.
The judge had said the Government’s claims that, :mental health sufferers require less support to travel@ were in breach of the Human Rights Act, and amounted to no more than “subjective opinion”.
Because they were discriminatory, the judge also found that the Secretary of State did not have lawful power to make the regulations without consultation, because they went against the very purpose of what the PIP regime sought to achieve.
The DWP then made it’s own statement, which just shows the dreamland they are in:
“PIP replaced a system that was less generous for people with mental health conditions and is designed to consider the broader picture of how someone’s life is affected by their disability or health condition.
“We are disappointed the judgement fails to recognise that PIP provides more support to people with mental health conditions than ever before.”
McVey then later revised the total to; 220,000 people thought to be affected, not the original estimate she had given of 164,000. Followed by a surprise announcement that she would not appeal the High Court verdict any further, paving the way for claimants to receive back payment,
DWP backs down again over PIP
The row in parliament on the 4th June related to, a second PIP back-down by the government.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), withdrew last week from a court battle with two chronically ill people, AN and JM, who wanted a higher entitlement of Personal Independence Payment, (PIP).
One of the claimants is severely diabetic and has to be watched at night to avoid slipping into a deadly coma. The pair’s lawyers argued that this need for an observer counted as “therapy” – which would, in turn, give the claimant a higher entitlement on PIP.
Ms McVey confirmed the DWP had altered their view on the case, and the two people involved will be paid the extra PIP within days.
However she repeatedly refused to say how other people in the similar situations will be affected, claiming: “That is not for discussion here today”.
McVey shows her callousness again
McVey then had the absolute cheek to try and make it sound like what they had done, was an act of kindness, by saying:
“The opposition do not like to hear the fact we have, I would say, done a positive move by not seeking to appeal and support these extra people
“You wouldn’t believe that by the screams from the opposite benches.”
Labour MP Debbie Abrahams, who had raised the question over the new case, demanded Ms McVey “get a grip” and Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Margaret Greenwood said: “What reason do disabled people have to believe her department is fit for purpose?”
Former Conservative minister Anna Soubry said the government “need to look at assessments” for PIP, as two thirds of claimants who go to the tribunal stage, have them overturned.
SNP MP Alison Thewliss said to the minister:
“The credibility of this department absolutely lies in tatters. They had to be dragged through the courts in the first place to be proven they are wrong.”
The myriad of mistakes and problems for Tory welfare reform is increasing weekly. Universal Credit is causing foodbank use to rise by up to 52%, and has shown no difference in getting people into work compared to legacy benefits.
Sanctions are costing more to administer than they are saving, making yet another net loss for the tax payer.
When will the government realise that it’s not working. People are suffering, the ‘wel’ has been taken out of welfare. Or it certainly feels like that to me. I’m all for cost effectiveness but not at any cost.
They have introduced a system designed to make savings at any cost, and that is beginning to include peoples lives…
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