DWP Admit Knowing They Would Cause Harm

About PIP and the 20 meter rule.

this is from ‘Diary of a Benefit Scrounger’

I hate this fight and everything it says about my country.

But I dearly love the remarkable characters who’ve stepped up (or hobbled in many cases) to face it.

We are often unlikely warriors, with our limps and our oxygen tanks and our feeding tubes. But perhaps there was something the DWP didn’t realise. Far from being easy victims, weak and helpless, it turned out (as we argued all along) that we were unbreakable.

Doctors hadn’t broken us, endless hospital stays hadn’t broken us, misdiagnoses, constant forms and judgement and unnecessary bureaucracy hadn’t broken us. “Suffering” or “Hunger” or “Terror” might be abstract terms for most, but we had triumphed over them all. Some of us for decades in an endless Groundhog Day loop. How ironic that the DWP thought they had picked the most vulnerable targets of all, but found, in fact, that no elite crack squad of Royal Marines fight as hard as a group of sickies faced with destitution.

And so it is with Steve Sumpter and the “20 Metre Rule” “Latent Existence” to many through his blog and twitter accounts.


This is a long and tortuous story that I will try to cut short. The government decided that they were going to scrap Disability Living Allowance, the main benefit (for some 3.2 million, in OR out of work) that covers the extra cost of being disabled. There wasn’t a hint of it in their manifesto. The new benefit (Personal Independence Payments or PIP) aimed to cut 20% from the existing “caseload”. Whether it had any aims other than cost cutting is unclear.

The first Spartacus Report exposed that the new scheme was almost unanimously opposed and that the case they were making for why it needed cutting at all was dishonest. Undeterred, they marched on, ignoring all advice and overturning every sensible amendment made to the changes in the Lords.

Just as the details of the new benefit were being finalised, with no consultation or prior warning, the government announced that the qualifying distance you were able to walk to qualify for full mobility support would be slashed by an inconceivable 60%. From 50 metres to just 20 metres. The government estimated that a whopping 600,000 disabled people would lose their support from this measure alone – to give you some idea, 20 metres won’t get most people to their car or even to their own bathroom. We took the government to court, arguing that the lack of consultation was unlawful and we won. We forced them to consult properly before they could go ahead. A new Spartacus report showed that over 30,000 people would no longer be able to get to work if the changes went ahead directly contradicting claims the coalition have always made that these changes were about helping sick and disabled people INTO work.

From the new consultation, of 1142 responses just FIVE supported cutting the distance to qualify for mobility support from 50 metres to 20 metres. The government ignored the consultation and went ahead with the change anyway. That, is not illegal.

So we took them to court again. With the unfailing support of Leigh Day Solicitors and Public Law Solicitors, we challenged the 20 metre rule itself.

That sounds easy doesn’t it? But I think we forget that one brave individual has to be the “test case”. One person has to stand up and say “OK, I’ll put myself through all of this on your behalf.” Going to court is unpleasant in every way – it’s stressful, intimidating, frightening and physically demanding. Your life is exposed along with every last one of your insecurities. And you, small, insignificant, you must take an entire government to Judicial Review. If ever David and Goliath fitted modern allegory it is this. To top it all, Steve has ME along with other congenital conditions that make this fight more demanding than most will ever know.

The fact that he will detest this post and chastise me for writing it says everything about the man and his tirelessly supportive partner – who incidentally has given up her own successful career to be his carer. Let’s not forget that all around the country people make this decision every day and get almost no support for doing so, saving the government £119 BILLION in the process. 

As with so many of the cases, the court have ruled that the change itself was not unlawful. But as with every other case we have bought, they listed a litany of criticism and rebuke over both the way and the means they have used to push changes through.


Liberty moves forward with ‘bedroom tax’ legal challenge

01 May 2014

Today Liberty announced that it has been granted permission to bring a Judicial Review of the Government’s controversial “bedroom tax”, based on the policy’s impact on separated families with shared custody of children.

The scheme cuts parents’ Housing Benefit if they have a ‘spare room’, even if that room is used by a child who lives with them on a part-time basis. Liberty is challenging the lawfulness of the relevant regulations on the grounds they are irrational and a violation of Articles 8 and/or 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights (the right to a private and family life and no discrimination).

A High Court Judge has now indicated that it is in the public interest for Liberty’s arguments to be heard and has given permission for the case to go forward. The human rights group launched the claim in April last year on behalf of three clients adversely affected by the policy, including Simon Cohen, from Gloucestershire, whose son lives with him four days a week in his two-bedroom house. Under the scheme his son is not considered part of his household – his room is deemed “unoccupied” – and Mr Cohen’s housing benefit has been cut by 14%.

Rosie Brighouse, Legal Officer for Liberty, said:

“A child’s bedroom is their sanctuary and these parents are providing stable and secure homes, not ‘under-occupying’ their properties. This one-size-fits-all rule discriminates against families outside a certain narrow mould, meaning that our clients represent thousands of parents who want to be part of their children’s lives. A Government who talks of prioritising families should know better.”

Press release from Liberty Human Rights http://www.liberty-human-rights.org.uk/news/press-releases/liberty-moves-forward-%E2%80%98bedroom-tax%E2%80%99-legal-challenge

Liberty is seeking a ruling that the relevant provision – Regulation B13 of the Housing Benefit (Amendment) Regulations 2012 – is incompatible with its clients’ and their children’s rights under Article 8 and/or Article 14 of the European Convention – and thus unlawful under section 6 of the Human Rights Act.

Contact: Liberty Press Office on 0207 378 3656 or 07973 831128

Update On Family’s Legal Challenge To DLA 84 Day Rule

Same Difference

I’ve just seen this update on this case at The Children’s Trust website.

A family whose disabled son’s disability living allowance (DLA) was taken away because he was in hospital for more than 84 days will take their legal challenge against the secretary of state for work and pensions to the court of appeal later this week (week commencing 3rd February 2014).

Cameron Mathieson spent more than two years in hospital with cystic fibrosis and muscular dystrophy. His family, who are being backed by both The Children’s Trust and Contact a Family, argue that they acted as full time carers until the five-year-old’s death, in October 2012.

They are mounting the challenge in their son’s name so that no other family with a disabled child who spends long periods in hospital has essential financial support taken away from them.

Government guidelines state that DLA is not payable after the first…

View original post 712 more words

Family Challenge DLA 84 Day Rule

Same Difference

The rule is madness. I wish them all the best with the legal case.

A family whose disabled son’s benefit was taken away while he was in hospital, have challenged the government rule.

Cameron Mathieson spent more than two years in Alder Hey Hospital with cystic fibrosis and muscular dystrophy.

His family argue they acted as full-time carers until the five-year-old’s death, in October 2012.

Government guidelines state Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is not payable after the first 84 days in hospital.

Cameron’s father Craig, said they were challenging “this grossly unfair rule in Cameron’s name” and plan to take the government to the Court of Appeal.

‘Emotional pressure’

He said: “Cameron had a unique combination of conditions and was the only such patient in the world with both cystic fibrosis and Duchenne’s muscular dystrophy in the genetic combination he had.

“While he was in hospital, my wife and I…

View original post 351 more words

Bedroom Tax: Disabled win right to appeal against “unjust” benefits law

Critics say new housing benefit regulations are unjustified and unlawfully discriminate against the weak and vulnerable
Disabled people have won the right to appeal against the controversial new “bedroom tax.” An appeal judge has ruled ten test cases should be heard, as they raise issues of public importance.

The cases are said to illustrate the serious impact of the regulations on disabled people living in social housing across Britain.

The appeal is against a High Court decision in July upholding the legality of new housing benefit regulations critics say are unjustified and unlawfully discriminate against the weak and vulnerable in society.

The regulations, introduced on April 1, led to reductions in benefit payments to tenants assessed to be under-occupying their accommodation. Under new “size criteria”, tenants with one spare bedroom have had a payment reduction of 14% and those deemed to have two or more spare, a reduction of 25%.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) rejects the “bedroom tax” tag and says the reality is that “a spare room subsidy” has been removed from social sector tenants.

It says local councils are being given discretionary housing payment funding so that they can help vulnerable residents with all the welfare housing reforms. It says this includes disabled people affected by the removal of the spare-room subsidy.

DWP lawyers contend reduction of rising housing benefit expenditure is a legitimate and “integral aspect” of the Government’s deficit reduction programme. The change in regulations is expected to produce savings of £500m a year.

But Ugo Hayter, a lawyer from legal firm Leigh Day, who is representing two cases of adults with disabilities said: “We are extremely pleased to be able to take our fight to the Court of Appeal. We remain confident that this unfair – and we believe unlawful – bedroom tax will be repealed.”

by Sam Adams in ‘The Mirror’, 26th September 2013: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/bedroom-tax-disabled-win-right-2305584?utm_content=buffer2d8c7&utm_source=buffer&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Buffer