Esther McVey: Her department is as irrational as she appears to be in this image.

The tragedy (for benefit claimants) that calls itself Esther McVey is still screwing up her job – and the lives of the people who rely on her and the DWP to get it right.

The latest blunder affects individuals with chronic conditions that require regular monitoring or medication such as diabetes and epilepsy.

Ms McVey had initially appealed to the Upper Tribunal and the Court of Appeal after the First-Tier Tribunal ruled that two claimants with chronic conditions were entitled to the Personal Independence Payment.

She has now withdrawn both appeals.

See the quoted material below for an analysis by Tom Royston of Garden Chambers North, who represented the claimants.

Mr Royston’s words show that successive Work and Pensions secretaries tried to enact and enforce a major change in the law without Parliamentary approval. That’s a major infraction of the rules.

Not only that, but from the dates on the appeals that have been withdrawn, Ms McVey has been forcing disabled people to wait for a final decision since 2015 in one case, and since 2016 in the other.

Disabled people. People who are likely to be less able to cope with a long wait for justice.

It seems to This Writer that Ms McVey, and successive Work and Pensions secretaries before her, has been gambling that her victims – yes, victims; and I think even that is too mild a word – would run out of stamina and let her have her way.

It is a classic bullying tactic.

As is so much Conservative government policy.

When did we become conditioned to accept a government that brutalises the people, rather than one that does our will?

The appeals concerned the meaning of Daily Living Activity 3, ‘Managing therapy or monitoring a health condition’, before amendments were made to it in March 2017. The government had been arguing that ‘therapy’ excluded treatment which consisted of the monitoring of health and administration of medication. For example, one of the claimants in these cases was a person with type 1 diabetes and unusual sleep patterns, who needed someone to watch over him at night, sometimes administering insulin or glucose while he slept, to avoid diabetic coma and death. The FTT had decided he qualified for PIP. The government had argued in the appeal that he should be awarded only 1 of the minimum 8 points necessary to qualify for PIP.

As a result of withdrawing her appeals, [Ms McVey] has accepted that, as with the case of her error relating to the mobility element of PIP, she will now need to review past claims relating to this descriptor, to identify other claimants who may have been underpaid. The government has not yet given any details of when or how that process will be carried out, or how many claimants it expects to be affected.

Further, [Ms McVey’s] abandonment of her appeal may cast doubt on the legality of the changes … made to the Regulations in March 2017 regarding Activity 3. When making those changes, [the then-Work and Pensions Secretary, Damian Green] did not consult before doing so. Following the … concession in these test cases, it now appears that [Mr Green] was… making a significant change in the law.

Source: Secretary of State for Work and Pensions acknowledges getting law wrong again on meaning of PIP descriptors – will have to conduct review of old cases | Garden Court North


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