The Government intends to appeal the decision [Image: AP].

We’ve been here before.

Once again, a Conservative government has lost a major court case involving disabled benefit claimants – but the High Court ruling will mean little for the 164,000 people claiming Personal Independence Payment because of mental health problems until all possibilities for appeal have been exhausted.

That could take some time – and a lot of public money.

We know from experience that spending public money on a wasted effort is no big deal for the Tories – they would rather do this than pay appropriate benefits to the sick and disabled.

You can tell which way the hot air is blowing from the DWP spokesperson’s response to the court ruling: “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 judgment fails to recognise that PIP provides more support to people with mental health conditions than ever before.”

It’s a complete nonsense.

If the former system – Disability Living Allowance – had been less generous for people with mental health problems, then nobody would have seen any need to appeal against a PIP award that, by necessity, should have provided more cash for the recipient. It didn’t. That’s why the court case was brought. PIP clearly provides less support and its design – if it really was intended to “consider the broader picture” – is therefore faulty.

Most importantly, after the Tories spent considerable effort saying they would boost support for people with mental health problems, the ruling demonstrates that the Conservatives provide less help now than under the previous system.

The plaintiff in the court case claimed that an amendment to PIP earlier this year, introducing regulations limiting the amount of support people with psychological distress could receive for making journeys, were discriminatory as they breached the Human Rights Act and were based on nothing more than subjective opinion.

The judge ruled that the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions did not have lawful power to make the regulations without consultation, because they went against the very purpose of the Personal Independence Payment.

Put that assertion next to that of the DWP spokesperson and you will see they are mutually exclusive – they cannot both be accurate.

So around 164,000 people will have to wait for their PIP claims to be updated and their payments increased – until the Tories’ appeal has been heard and rejected. The Court of Appeal may even refuse to allow it to go ahead.

You can read more on the ruling, here and here.


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