Tag Archives: benefit

Why has EHRC broken promise to investigate DWP’s role in deaths of benefit claimants?

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has u-turned on a promise to investigate the role played by the Department for Work and Pensions in the deaths of vulnerable benefit claimants, it’s being reported.

Instead the EHRC are now asking the DWP to create new policies in relation to claimants with mental health issues and learning difficulties. Apparently the commission is using the Covid-19 pandemic as an excuse.

This Site forced the DWP to publish figures showing that thousands of people had died of unexplained causes after being thrown off benefits by that government department and I am deeply concerned by this failure to scrutinise whether the government caused these deaths.

And how many more people have died since I exposed those deaths seven years ago?

I shall be writing to the EHRC today, seeking a meaningful explanation for this u-turn.

UPDATE: Here’s what I have written to the EHRC:

“I was the writer who forced the DWP to admit that thousands of people have died after being thrown off benefits – for no established reason. I am deeply concerned that the EHRC has decided not to investigate the DWP’s role in the deaths of claimants and is choosing only to seek an agreement to better protect claimants – similar to other undertakings that the DWP has ignored in the past, causing more deaths. The DWP will never respect the human rights, or indeed the lives, of claimants unless it is forced to do so. I am writing to you to seek an explanation for your decision that I can publish to my readers. How will you defend this indefensible decision?”

Let’s see what response – if any – I receive.

Source: EHRC Breaks Promise To Investigate DWP Role In Deaths – The poor side of life

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Government Wastes £440 Million Trying to Overturn Disability Benefit Claims | Beastrabban\’s Weblog

[Image: Black Triangle Campaign].

This is a classic rant from my brother The Beast – and so full of facts that not only do you need to read it, but you should send it to all your friends as well:

The Tories and Blairites – ’cause it was Blair who introduced the vile Work Capability Tests – are convinced and would like you to believe that a large portion of claims for disability benefit are fraudulent.

Thanks to right-wing rags like the Heil, the British public believes that 25% of all disability claims are fake. In fact… the overwhelming number of claims for disability benefits are genuine. Only a vanishingly small number, less than 1 per cent, are attempts to defraud the benefits system.

But obviously, this detracts from the Tory desire to punish the poor for not working or being able to work, while they could be gainfully exploited by all the rich industrialists they want to give massive tax cuts to.

And so we have suffered 40-odd years of Thatcherite cuts to the benefits system while Tory and Blairite mouthpieces have told us that such cuts are ‘self-help’, encouraging self-reliance, going to revive proper Christian charity and private initiative without the safety net of the state.

The principle of less eligibility – how the whole process of claiming state support was to be as unpleasant as possible in order to deter people from doing so – was one of [Thatcher’s] ‘Victorian Values’ that she wished to reintroduce into the welfare system.

So did Blair, who created the Work Capability Tests because of pseudoscientific, discredited research on behalf of US insurance fraudster Unum. This assumed that most disability claims were fake, and that getting people back into work would do them good.

The assumption that a certain percentage of all disability claims were fake has led, according to whistleblowers, to the imposition of quotas… which demand that a set percentage of disability claims should be turned down.

This has led to severely ill, even terminally so patients, being judged fit for work. It has led to moronic … clerks asking amputees when their absent limbs are expected to grow back. And it has led to hundreds, if not thousands of genuinely sick and disabled people dying from poverty and hunger because they were denied an income.

This included people with serious mental health problems and conditions like diabetes, who were found starved to death.

It’s been denounced by disability activists as a genocide. Harsh words, but this is mass murder by governments who know exactly what the consequences of these sanctions are. They just don’t want you to know.

Source: Government Wastes £440 Million Trying to Overturn Disability Benefit Claims | Beastrabban\’s Weblog

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Spring Statement signals huge fall in UK living standards – especially if you’re on benefits

Despair: the indifference of the Conservative government that UK voters put into office by a landslide means that – unless you’re a millionaire like them – you are going to struggle to survive over the next few years. Does voting Tory still seem a good idea?

UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak has let voters down badly.

His failure to do anything meaningful to tackle the cost of living crisis, coupled with inflation and high taxation, mean people are facing the biggest fall in living standards since records began in 1956. Worst-hit will be people on benefits, for whom Sunak offered absolutely nothing at all.

Watch Paul Johnson of the Institute for Fiscal Studies as he lays out the bad news:

I’m not going to suggest that any Vox Political reader was stupid enough to vote Tory. But somebody is bound to find this article and consider responding along the lines that the alternative was Jeremy Corbyn “and we’d all be in a terrible state with him in charge!”

But this is quite clearly nonsense. Corbyn was never allowed to be in charge and so any such claims are just childish speculation.

We know why he wasn’t allowed to be in charge:

You were told he was an anti-Semite, and that was a lie.

You were told he wanted to dismantle the UK’s armed forces, and that was a lie too.

You were told he was a friend of Vladimir Putin, and that was also a lie. The friends of Vladimir Putin are currently sitting in Downing Street pretending to be his enemies.

In broader terms, the Tories won because you were told that Brexit would be good for you and voting Tory was the only way to “Get Brexit Done”. That was the biggest lie of all; Brexit has been an unmitigated disaster for the people – and the economy – of the United Kingdom.

As your Tory friends struggle to make ends meet over the coming years and months, please don’t hesitate to remind them of the facts that they ignored because they preferred the convenient lies.

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People in Scotland with lifelong disabilities will no longer face benefit tests

Nicola Sturgeon: doing more for people with disabilities than Boris Johnson.

The UK’s Conservative government – particularly its prime minister – are first to disparage the Scottish National Party but fall behind that organisation in the implementation of policy.

The Tories have been promising to ditch benefit reassessments of people with lifelong conditions but look at this – the SNP got there first:

Disabled people in Scotland with serious lifelong conditions will no longer have to attend reassessments to continue receiving their benefits.

The Scottish government will begin taking over adult disability benefits from the UK government next week.

Currently, people with lifelong conditions such as being blind have to be reassessed to keep their benefits.

The Scottish government said it would have a more “compassionate” approach.

The pilot for the new payment will begin in Dundee, the Western Isles and Perth and Kinross from 21 March.

People already receiving Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and Disability Living Allowance (DLA) from the UK Government’s Department for Work and Pensions do not need to apply for the new payment from Social Security Scotland.

They will be automatically transferred on to the new system from the summer, the Scottish government’s social security minister Ben Macpherson said.

He said the new Adult Disability Payment would make a number of changes to assessment.

Mr Macpherson said: “If they have a disability or a long-term health condition that is unlikely to change, we are looking to provide indefinite awards, which means that people will not need to reapply for their benefit or be reviewed.”

Source: Lifelong Disabilities Will Not Face Benefit Tests | Same Difference

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DWP blocks study of links between benefit sanctions and death. What are the Tories trying to hide?

‘Bring out your dead’: this satirical image shows public opinion of the limits of DWP concern for people the Tory government department deprives of the money they need to live.

A groundbreaking study of possible links between benefit sanctions and claimant ill-health – including mental illness and suicide – has ground to a halt because Tory ministers are not co-operating.

After making a big show of supporting the Glasgow University research back in 2019, DWP ministers immediately insisted that new security protocols would be required before they released the necessary data.

It took two years for the new protocols to be completed – and when they reached completion last year, the DWP demanded that researchers should apply for the data all over again.

Prof Nick Bailey, who is heading the Glasgow sanctions project, said that had the data been shared as originally agreed with the DWP in 2018, his research would have been in the public domain by early 2020. It is now five years since the research process for the project was supposed to have started and it has yet to get under way.

“The consequence for both policymakers and benefit claimants is we continue to operate an important policy, sanctions, which has potentially substantial consequences for those affected by it but with very little evidence of the impact of the policy, and almost none on the wider impacts,” said Bailey.

A recent Glasgow University paper analysing international studies of sanctions reported “significant associations with increased material hardship and health problems” as well as evidence sanctions “were associated with increased child maltreatment and poorer child wellbeing”.

The DWP has said it is now “actively considering” the data request that was originally made back in 2018 – nearly four years ago.

But what are we – the public – to make of this?

Does the Department for Work and Pensions have something to hide – such as complicity in the deaths of thousands of benefit claimants?

This Writer – and This Site – forced the government to reveal that thousands of people had died of unexplained causes within two weeks of being denied their benefits, all the way back in 2015.

Nothing was done to research the deaths – or to find out what had happened to people who had been denied benefits after the two-week period the DWP monitored.

And that was nearly seven years ago.

It seems to me that the DWP is deliberately concealing information on behalf of its masters in the Conservative government; the demand for extraordinary security procedures is just an excuse.

And it seems to me that there can be only one reason for hiding the information – that there is a link between benefit sanctions and claimant deaths, and DWP bosses have known about it for many years.

I challenge the DWP – and the Conservative government – to prove me wrong.

Source: DWP blocks data for study of whether benefit sanctions linked to suicide | Benefits | The Guardian

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#DWP has been wrongly rejecting #benefit claims at a record rate

[Image: Black Triangle Campaign].

There are only a very small number of news stories about the benefit system as administered by the UK’s maliciously inept Department for Work and Pensions.

There’s the story about the DWP wrongly denying benefits to people (usually large numbers of them at a time).

There’s the one about loss of benefits (allegedly) leading to the death of a UK citizen (or indeed thousands, as I was able to force out of the department back in 2015).

There’s the one about the DWP promising to improve its performance so it gets its decisions right first time.

There’s the one about the appeal system either being unfit for purpose or finding in favour of huge numbers of claimants.

There’s the one about the costs of a system that aims to penalise people rather than pay them being far more than if everybody was just paid without question.

And there are mixtures of several or all of the above.

This story is a mixture.

It seems the DWP has been wrongly denying benefits to people, the appeal process has been demonstrating this at huge cost, and questions have been asked about why the department isn’t getting its decisions right, even after all these years:

The government is finding a record number of disability benefits claimants have been wrongly rejected by its own assessments as the cost of correcting these errors soars, new figures show.

Campaigners have pointed to “flaws in the system” that led to almost 80,000 Personal Independence Payment (Pip) decisions being overturned at initial review last year.

Meanwhile, separate figures show the cost of these reviews has surged by 26 per cent in the last two years, despite the fact that the number of reviews carried out by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) decreased by 23 per cent over the same period.

The rate at which these appeals have led to a decision being reversed has surged from 22 per cent (46,580 of 236,720) three years ago to 43 per cent (78,390 of 182,880) last year, according to data obtained via freedom of information (FOI) laws.

Separately, figures published by DWP minister Chloe Smith in response to a written parliamentary question show that the cost to taxpayers of mandatory considerations for Pip stood at £24.8m last year, compared with £19.7m in 2018/19 and £13.7m in 2016/17.

Of course the upshot of this is that the DWP is unreasonably harming people’s quality of life.

And this leads me to the final aspect of DWP stories that keeps getting repeated, which is the following:

The DWP is meant to harm claimants’ quality of life. That is the purpose of the benefit system, as far as your Tory government knows.

The ultimate intention is to be able to say that a benefit system is available, while paying out no benefits at all.

Yes, this is extremely harmful to claimants, as we have all seen over the last 12 years. Fatal, in many cases.

And there’s only one way to change it.

After so many years of being told the DWP will learn the lessons of its failures, we can only conclude that it is not learning anything at all – or that the lessons it is learning are about how to harm people in less visible ways.

This is not going to change under the Conservatives*. We need a change of government.

*And no, it won’t change under Labour or the Liberal Democrats either. Please don’t delude yourself with that fantasy for the sake of an easy life.

Source: DWP admits wrongly rejecting disabled people for benefits at record rate | The Independent

Secret DWP benefits survey cherry-picks respondents – so it can lay blame on claimants?

Too much Coffey: the Work and Pensions Secretary (right) seems to have commissioned a survey of benefit claimants in order to say their failure to budget properly has put them into hardship – not her insistence on providing starvation-level payments and using the slightest excuse to cut them off. Meanwhile, she parties.

The Department for Work and Pensions has launched a secret survey – sent only to specially cherry-picked claimants.

The reason seems to be to blame benefit recipients for any hardship they suffer, claiming that poor budgeting skills are the root of the problem rather than the political decision to fix payments at starvation levels – and then to use the flimsiest excuses to stop them.

The survey asks about debts claimants may have, what effect the debts have had on them and what support they need. It is the last question that has raised concerns, as Benefits and Work, which hoisted the red flag on this apparent scam, pointed out:

The full question and list of options is as follows:

What types of help or support, if any, would be most useful in helping you manage your finances?

  • Help with working out what money I have left to spend each/day/week/month.
  • Advice on how to spread my spending so I don’t run out of money
  • Advice on how to reduce my spending
  • Advice on how to reduce my debt
  • Advice on how to increase my income
  • Help with setting up a direct debit/standing order
  • Help with opening a bank account
  • Other (specify)

In this context, advice to increase my income is most likely to relate to those in employment.  In general claimants cannot increase their income unless there is a benefit they could be claiming that they are not aware of.

What is entirely missing from these options are the ones that would actually make a difference to claimants, such as:

  • Pay benefits at a rate that is enough to live on
  • Remove the 5 week waiting time for UC
  • End the long delays for PIP assessments and WCAs

Because there are no such options, this survey will produce results that say that, of claimants who are in debt:

X% say they need advice on working out what money they have left to spend

X% say they need advice on how to reduce their spending

X% say they need advice on how to reduce their debt

Whilst some people may indeed say in the ‘Other’ box that the help they need is a higher rate of benefits, this will not be listed as a percentage in outcomes as everyone’s answers will be worded differently.

In other words, all the support needs will be around claimants not understanding how to manage their money, rather than it being impossible to manage on the money they receive.

See how it works?

Benefits and Work has made Freedom of Information requests to ask how the claimants taking part in this survey are selected, how many are taking part and whether the results of the report are going to be published.

The logical conclusion to be drawn is that the DWP has been stung by having to reveal the findings of its secret report on how people on sickness and disability benefits are struggling with unmet needs.

Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey had repeatedly refused to publish the DWP-commissioned report on disabled people’s experiences of the benefit system – so the Commons Work and Pensions Committee ordered its authors to provide a copy to Parliament. It has now been published.

The report, received by the government in September 2020, stated that many people are using disability benefits such as PIP, which is intended to meet the additional costs of disability, for very basic needs such as food, rent and paying debts:

“The participant had kidney failure, arthritis in his back, legs and arms, depression and bulimia which caused chronic stomach pains. He lived alone in a flat rented from a Housing Association, using Housing Benefit. He was in the ESA Support Group and received PIP. He made monthly repayments for utility bill arrears and had a £5,000 bank loan which he could not afford to repay. His debt repayments meant he could not afford essential day-to-day living needs and used a foodbank. He found it difficult to wash independently due to his arthritis and needed a walk-in shower but could not afford one and seemed unaware that he may be eligible for support through the local authority. He also needed support with cooking and cleaning and received help from a cousin. His cousin would like to claim Carer’s Allowance but neither of them knew how to make an application. He had no other support networks close by.”

It said claimants with invisible disabilities such as mental health conditions often struggle even more than those with physical conditions to meet their basic needs:

“Participants with mental health conditions tended to report a wide variety of basic needs, health and care needs and social needs that were unmet. In comparison, those with profound learning disabilities and severe physical disabilities were typically in the group that identified having fewer unmet needs. While the latter group experienced a high level of need across a range of areas, these were usually being met through a combination of local authority support and informal support networks, usually parents who provided a high level of care.”

And the wellbeing of disabled claimants often depends primarily on being in a household in which another member has a well-paid job:

“The participant has recently moved in with her mother and sister, she had previously lived alone in a council-rented flat but had begun to feel isolated and found paying the rent and bills difficult so decided to move in with her mother. She has a range of health conditions and disabilities including Asperger syndrome, anxiety, ADHD, joint stiffness and IBS. She works 28 hours a week and receives PIP. Before moving to live with her mother she was concerned about how her income would cover essential day-to-day living costs. She also struggled with maintaining her personal hygiene and found it difficult to leave the house as she did not like going out alone. Moving in with her mother has helped her to meet all of her health-related needs.”

The reason Coffey and the DWP kept the report secret seems clear when one notes that last October – more than a year after receiving it – the Work and Pensions Secretary was lying to the public about the system it damns.

As Benefits and Work (again) details:

Coffey was telling the Conservative party conference that:

“PIP has certainly grown in a way that was not anticipated when it was introduced.

“To give you an example, three out of four young people who claim PIP have their primary reason being mental ill health.

“That in itself is 189,000 young people who currently receive benefit focused on that. There may be other benefits they receive as well.

“. . . people can think the benefit system is fair.

“And I think by being able to target that even more so to people who really need that support, may improve that prospect of public perception.”

Having been forced to release a report that shows – even in its watered-down form – that the benefit system is forcing hardship and related physical and psychological torture on claimants, including those who already have significant mental health problems (leading to a threat to life itself?), it seems Coffey has commissioned this new survey in order to manufacture a false justification for herself.

I think I’ll write her a letter. Let’s see how she justifies this web of deceit.

Source: DWP secret survey set to blame claimants for going cold and hungry

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Starmer the abstainer strikes again as Tories impose real-terms benefit cut

Labour’s shame: Keir Starmer. He was mobbed by an angry crowd who had been misled by Boris Johnson’s false allegations about him and Jimmy Savile; if the crowd had turned against him because of his tacit support for Tory benefit cuts, This Site would have applauded the act.

Boris Johnson’s hard-right-wing Conservative government has imposed a real-terms cut in payments for people with pensions and other benefits.

From April, payments will be uprated by 3.1 per cent. But inflation is likely to peak at more than twice that – 7.25 per cent is predicted – meaning vulnerable people will struggle.

The cut come on top of the 54 per cent increase in fuel bills that the Tories intend to “smooth out” with a £200 loan that will be demanded back later, even though they will not have the money.

Tory Chancellor Rishi Sunak has also announced a £150 council tax rebate for people whose homes are in Bands A to D – but this does not help benefit claimants who receive Council Tax Support.

Shall I go on?

Universal Credit was slashed by £1,040 per year last September when the Tories ended an uprating that had been imposed to help people cope with the effects of Covid-19 on employment and earnings.

And a pension increase, approved around the same time, was limited to only two of the “triple lock” conditions because Tories said the third – which would have raised payments in line with the percentage rise in wages – would have led to a rise of eight per cent that they said was artificially inflated because of Covid.

Hindsight shows us that an eight per cent rise would have been appropriate to cope with the huge increases in the cost of living that the Tories have caused with their catastrophic mismanagement of the UK.

Normally one would expect Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition to do its job and oppose this oppression of vulnerable people. So, where was Keir Starmer when this cut was imposed?

He was nowhere to be seen.

Starmer had ordered his MPs to abstain and only 13 party members had the courage – and the responsibility – to rebel.

They were Apsana Begum, Richard Burgon, Ian Byrne, Dan Carden, Ian Lavery, Tony Lloyd, Rebecca Long-Bailey, John McDonnell, Grahame Morris, Cat Smith, Zarah Sultana, Nadia Whittome and Beth Winter.

Bell Ribeiro-Addy and Andy McDonald acted as tellers for the ‘Noes’, meaning they were unable to vote but it is understood that they would have done so otherwise.

Steve Walker, over on Skwawkbox, has suggested that Starmer is “addicted to absention” because he doesn’t want to stand for anything disliked by the Tory voters he is trying to steal from Boris Johnson.

Steve went on to point out that formerly-Labour voters have decided to “switch off in disgust at the lack of a real alternative” to the Tories.

But it is worse than that. Starmer is alienating a generation from voting.

With no opposition from the so-called Opposition, anybody whose politics is to the left of Mussolini’s has nobody to support and is unlikely to vote for any of the far-right candidates who’ll be paraded by the Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats in future elections.

These parties are now so closely-aligned that you couldn’t get a Diner’s Club card between their policies.

There is an alternative – so of course it is being played down by the Tory media.

New left-wing organisations have sprung up and aligned together in what’s being called the People’s Alliance of the Left.

Member organisations include the Breakthrough Party, Northern Independence Party, Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) and Left Unity – all of whom, This Writer understands, have enjoyed large increases in membership since linking together.

This Site encourages readers who want to support a genuine alternative to research the PAL member organisations and either join or support whichever seems likely to gather the most support in your local area.

Information on PAL is available here.

You can find out about the Breakthrough Party here.

The Northern Independence Party sets out its stall here.

This is the website for the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC).

And Left Unity’s website is here.

PAL’s first Parliamentary candidate is Dave Nellist, who will be standing as the TUSC representative in the Birmingham Erdington by-election on March 3.

If you live in that constituency – or you want to support the candidate and political views that genuinely oppose the current hard-right consensus – please sign up to support Dave.

Source: Byrne one of only 13 to rebel vs Starmer’s abstention addiction as Labour hides from vote on benefits cut – SKWAWKBOX

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Another #DWP bid to deprive severely #disabled people of #benefits crushed by the courts

Therese Coffey: her Universal Credit rules discriminate against severely disabled people who she should be protecting. Rather than admit that it is wrong, she insists on wasting public money defending the indefensible in the courts.

Two severely disabled men have won a legal challenge after the Department of Work and Pensions’ (DWP) failed to provide enough in transitional payments to protect them and others as they moved to Universal Credit.

A High Court judge found that the DWP discriminated against the pair, known as TP and AR, by refusing to compensate them the full difference between the payments they received on legacy benefits and UC payments in an area where it had already been rolled out – around £180 per month.

The DWP gave evidence that a ruling like this will affect up to 50,000 people, it will cost up to £150 million and take six years to put right the underpayments.

The ruling is the fourth in favour of TP and AR, who began their legal campaign after they suffered a severe drop in income in 2016 and 2017 as a result of house moves to areas where UC was in operation. Previously they had each received Severe Disability Premium (SDP) and Enhanced Disability Premium (EDP).

Despite rulings in the High Court and Court of Appeal, the DWP refused to pay severely disabled people affected by the policy the full monthly loss they had suffered of around £180.

Instead it paid just £120 a month, compensating for the loss of SDP and not EDP.

The SDP Gateway was introduced in 2019 to prevent other severely disabled benefits claimants from being moved onto UC outside of a managed migration process until January 2021. Outside of that period, disabled people in receipt of both SDP and EDP who experience a so-called ‘trigger event’ (certain changes in circumstances), such as a move into a UC area, experienced a sudden severe loss of income. They are known as ‘SDP natural migrants’.

The judgment in this case represents the fourth time that the Court has given detailed consideration to claims under Article 14 of the European Convention of Human Rights alleging unlawful discrimination against severely disabled adults who ‘naturally’ migrated to Universal Credit.

Once again, the Court concluded that Therese Coffey, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions was unable to show an objective and reasonable justification for the different treatment of people in TP and AR’s position.

The Court found that the Secretary of State’s arguments and evidence were largely the same as in the earlier cases and, in spite of the outcome and detailed findings in the previous cases, her evidence on key points was very limited, too generic or otherwise inadequate.

The Secretary of State claimed that something significant had changed, but the Court repeatedly emphasised that the essential differences in treatment remained the same and that neither legislative changes nor temporary Covid-related support changed the analysis.

The court held that the Universal Credit regulations unlawfully discriminate against TP and AR by failing to cover the loss of EDP when providing transitional payments.

UC therefore treated them less favourably, without reasonable justification, than legacy benefit claimants entitled to SDP who did not experience a ‘trigger event’ compelling them to claim UC, and legacy benefit claimants entitled to UC who experienced a ‘trigger event’ on or after January 16, 2019, and before January 27, 2021 (the period in which the Gateway was in place).

Mr Justice Holgate found:

  • The Covid-19 uplift received by UC claimants during the pandemic does not undo or make up for the disadvantage caused by the failure to cover the loss of EDP.
  • The inclusion of relief for EDP would not overpay those of the 71,000 claimants who receive SDP but not EDP. Overpayment could be avoided if legislation provided for six fixed rates of payment rather than three. “The suggestion that transitional payments in respect of EDP could not be deliverable has simply not been made out,” he said.
  • The risk that a ruling in favour of TP and AR would trigger ‘piggyback’ (similar, other) claims was not realistic.
  • The Secretary of State had not shown a reasonable relationship of proportionality between her aim of curtailing public expenditure, and the decision not to provide any element of transitional relief against the loss of EDP.

According to the DWP, in evidence it gave to the court when defending the judicial review claim, the ruling will affect up to 50,000 people and will involve sums of up to £150 million over a six-year period to put right.

The ruling is the fourth in favour of TP and AR, who began their legal campaign after they suffered a severe drop in income when they were moved on to UC in 2016 and 2017 as a result of house moves to areas where UC was in operation. Previously they had each received Severe Disability Premium (SDP) and Enhanced Disability Premium (EDP).

Despite rulings in the High Court and Court of Appeal, the DWP still refused to pay severely disabled people affected by the policy the full monthly loss of circa £180 they suffered and instead paid them just £120 a month, compensating for the loss of SDP and not EDP.

The SDP Gateway was introduced in 2019 to prevent other severely disabled benefits claimants from being moved onto UC outside of a managed migration process until January 2021. Outside of that period, disabled people in receipt of both SDP and EDP who experience a so-called ‘trigger event’ (certain changes in circumstances), such as a move into a UC area, experienced a sudden severe loss of income. They are known as ‘SDP natural migrants’.

The judgment in this case represents the fourth time that the Court has given detailed consideration to claims under Article 14 of the European Convention of Human Rights alleging unlawful discrimination against severely disabled adults who ‘naturally’ migrated to Universal Credit.

Once again, the Court concluded that the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions was unable to show an objective and reasonable justification for the differential treatment of those in TP and AR’s position. The Court found that to a large extent the Secretary of State’s arguments and evidence were the same as in the earlier cases.[1] In spite of the outcome and detailed findings in the previous cases, the Defendant’s evidence on key points was very limited, too generic or otherwise inadequate.[2] Notwithstanding the Secretary of State’s continued claims that something significant had changed, the Court repeatedly emphasised that the essential differences in treatment remained the same and that neither legislative changes nor temporary Covid-related support changed the analysis.[3]

The court held that Regulation 63 and Schedule 2 of the Universal Credit (Transitional Provisions) Regulations 2014 unlawfully discriminate against TP and AR by failing to cover the loss of EDP when providing transitional payments. It thereby treated them less favourably, without reasonable justification, than (1) legacy benefit claimants entitled to SDP who did not experience a ‘trigger event’ compelling them to claim UC, and (2) legacy benefit claimants entitled to UC who experienced a ‘trigger event’ on or after 16 January 2019 and before 27 January 2021 (during the period in which the Gateway was in place).

Mr Justice Holgate found:

  • The Covid-19 uplift received by UC claimants during the pandemic does not undo or make up for the disadvantage caused by the failure to cover the loss of EDP.
  • The inclusion of relief for EDP would not overpay those of the 71,000 claimants who receive SDP but not EDP. Overpayment could be avoided if legislation provided for six fixed rates of payment rather than three. “The suggestion that transitional payments in respect of EDP could not be deliverable has simply not been made out,” he said.
  • The risk that a ruling in favour of TP and AR would trigger ‘piggyback’ (similar, other) claims was not realistic.
  • The Secretary of State had not shown a reasonable relationship of proportionality between her aim of curtailing public expenditure, and the decision not to provide any element of transitional relief against the loss of EDP.

“I am not satisfied … that the broad aims of promoting phased transition, curtailing public expenditure or administrative efficiency required the denial of transitional relief against the loss of EDP for SDP natural migrants,” he said.

“A fair balance has not been struck between the severity of the effects of the measure under challenge … and the contribution that that measure makes to the achievement of the [Secretary of State’s] aims.”

He said there was stronger evidence to conclude this “where there is no connection between the triggering event, the move to a home in a different local authority area, and any rational assessment of the disability needs of a severely disabled claimant.”

The judgment also found in favour of claimants AB and F, a disabled mother and child, saying that the discrimination they suffered “is manifestly without reasonable foundation”.

The DWP’s failure to provide transitional protection against the loss of the lower disabled child element of Child Tax Credit was found to constitute unlawful discrimination.

It treated AB and F less favourably than legacy benefit claimants entitled to SDP and the lower disabled child element of Child Tax Credit who have not experienced a trigger event compelling them to claim UC.

It also treated them less favourably than legacy benefit claimants who were entitled to SDP and the lower disabled child element of Child Tax Credit who experienced a trigger event whilst the SDP gateway was in place.

“I am relieved that the judge agrees that the DWP treated us differently than other severely disabled benefits claimants and that it was wrong to do so,” said TP.

“The past six years have been immensely stressful as I have struggled to get by on a lower income. I just hope that the DWP will put all of this right as soon as possible so that those of us who have been badly affected by this unfair policy can get on with our lives.”

AR added: “It should never have been the case that disabled people entitled to the severe and enhanced disability premiums were suddenly deprived of the equivalent sum when they found themselves transferred onto Universal Credit.

“The policy has caused me and others serious hardship and I am glad that the court has seen the sense in our argument. Hopefully we will be ‘fourth time lucky’ and finally have reached the end of the road fighting this unfair policy.”

Their solicitor, Tessa Gregory, said she could not understand why the DWP was still dragging the affair out in the courts.

“Following the three previous findings of unlawful discrimination, the DWP should have ensured our clients were not losing out on severe and enhanced disability payments.

“Instead, after each judgment the DWP has made further attempts to short-change this group of highly vulnerable claimants who faced a cliff edge loss of income when none of their disability needs has changed.

“Our clients hope that this judgment marks the end of the road and that the DWP will stop wasting money on legal fees and get on with protecting the vulnerable.”

Source: Severely disabled benefits claimants TP and AR win legal challenge over loss of income caused by move on to Universal Credit | Leigh Day

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#Labour is said to be on verge of #bankruptcy – and we can all see the reason

Keir Starmer: if his job was to destroy the Labour Party, then it is nearly complete.

So there you have it. After less than two years in office, Keir Starmer has turned a bank account of around £13 million into bankruptcy.

And he was the Great White Hope of neoliberal right-wing Labour – the “any other leader” who was going to revitalise the party’s popularity and put it 20 points ahead of the Tories in the polls.

Labour is ahead of the Tories in some polls (just!) – but only because corrupt Conservative prime minister Boris Johnson has disgraced himself by breaking the rules he himself imposed on the people of the UK.

How did Starmer drag Labour to this new low?

Partly by launching a wrong-headed crusade against left-wingers/socialist party members, under the guise of attacking anti-Semitism. We all know it’s a false flag because he has been expelling left-wing Jews.

Court cases both by and against Labour, due to this outrageous behaviour, have cost the party millions.

And ordinary members have been deserting the party, having realised that Starmer is turning it back into a tepid version of the Tories that they simply won’t support.

What better example of this behaviour could we have than Starmer’s response to a vote on the Tory Welfare Cap on Monday (January 10)?

What a shocking indictment against Labour – the party that was set up to stand up for common people everywhere!

You can probably work out most of the Labour MPs who voted against the plan to restrict benefits to poverty levels and increase child poverty, but here’s the list:

Apsana Begum, Richard Burgon, Ian Byrne, Dan Carden, Margaret Greenwood, Kate Hollern, Kim Johnson, Ian Lavery, Andy McDonald, John McDonnell, Bell Ribeiro-Addy, Marie Rimmer, Zarah Sultana, and Beth Winter.

Jeremy Corbyn and Claudia Webbe also voted against it but of course Starmer has thrown them out of his Parliamentary party for no good reason.

183 Labour MPs abstained, including Starmer himself and his Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Jonathan Ashworth – indicating tacit support for the harm the Tory measures will inflict on vulnerable people across the UK.

That is why Labour is nearly bankrupt: if Starmer won’t stand up for us, we can’t support him.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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