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Human rights/equalities, Judicial review, Social security and welfare benefits

Litigation update: Delays by DWP unlawful but not a breach of human rights

Image: Commons Public Accounts Select Committee

Image: Commons Public Accounts Select Committee

This piece appeared originally on the website of Landmark Chambers and is re-blogged here with permission. Views expressed in blog posts are those of the authors and not necessarily those of UKAJI.

High Court finds delays to Personal Independence Payments unlawful DATE: 05 Jun 2015 The High Court today gave judgment in R (C and W) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Zacchaeus 2000 Trust intervening [2015] EWHC 1607 (Admin).  The case concerned the delays in assessment for individuals claiming Personal Independence Payments on account of disability. The claim was brought on behalf of two individuals who had waited for 10 and 13 months respectively before they were assessed as entitled to PIP.  The Zacchaeus 2000 Trust, Z2K a charity addressing poverty issues, intervened in support of the claim, with written and oral argument, and written evidence (including case studies considered by Patterson J in her judgment). Patterson J held that the delays were unlawful in each of the two cases, on the grounds of a breach of the implied duty to determine PIP claims within a reasonable time.  However, there was held to be no breach of the Claimants’ human rights under Arts 6 or A1P1. The Judge found that the delays had “considerable and unnecessary” impacts on PIP claimants whom she agreed were among some of the most vulnerable people in society. She held at para. 93 of the Judgment: “In my judgment, the delay in claimant C’s case from 9 September 2013 until the determination of her benefit on 24 October 2014 of some thirteen months and the delay in claimant W’s case from 3 February 2014 until December 2014 of some ten months was not only unacceptable, as conceded by the defendant, but was unlawful.” The judge also accepted Z2K’s case that the hardship caused for many claimants was exacerbated by the absence of any interim support scheme being put in place, the unintended effects of the benefit cap on claimants whilst awaiting their awards (PIP recipients are exempt from the cap), the failure to make transitional provisions to slow the roll out and the failure to adopt a triage scheme to identify / expedite those claimants in particular need (para 95). Zoe Leventhal and Alistair Mills appeared on behalf of Z2K, the intervener, instructed by Leigh Day & Co.

NOTE from UKAJI: The Personal Independence Payments (PIPs) were introduced two years and are intended to replace Disability Living Allowance (DLA). The wider roll-out of PIPs is planned for October 2015. A report in the Guardian quoted Minister for Disabled People, Justin Tomlinson: “The court has rightly dismissed the claimants’ absurd suggestion that their human rights had been breached. As a result they are not entitled to damages. “We have taken decisive action to speed up Pip waiting times and we are pleased the court has recognised the huge progress made. The average new Pip claimant now waits only seven weeks for an assessment.

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