Tag Archives: discrimination

More gay and bisexual men can give blood – after wait of more than six years (at least!)

It is more than six years since I tore metaphorical shreds off of Michael Fabricant for suggesting the ban on all gay men giving blood should be lifted – and this announcement proves I was right.

At the time, Fabricant reckoned the ban on sexually promiscuous gay men should be lifted as straight men who behave in the same manner do not suffer the same discrimination.

I stated that this was insane – partly because it misrepresented the issue.

The problem, I said, was that the ban did not only affect sexually promiscuous gay men, but any man who had had sex with another man, with or without a condom.

This clearly discriminated against gay men who were in a monogamous relationship in which both partners were free of infection. They should not be covered by the ban, I said.

Fast forward to the new announcement:

Men who have sex with men in a long-term relationship will now be able to donate blood at any time.

The new criteria [focus] on individual behaviours, lifting a blanket ban for any men who have had sex with men in the last three months.

All blood donors who have had one sexual partner and who have been with their sexual partner for more than three months, will now be eligible to donate regardless of their gender, the gender of their partner, or the type of sex they have.

Under previous rules, all men who have sex with men had to abstain from sex for three months in order to donate.

It is as though the authorities had (belatedly) read my article.

There was more to it than is being stated by the BBC, though. Here’s what I wrote, back in 2014:

The ban was put in place – unless the memory cheats – because blood supplies donated by gay men were discovered to be infected with HIV. Anybody can see that a ban on anything that could spread HIV is entirely sensible and should only be lifted if technology has moved on enough for doctors to spot infected blood immediately or screen out the infection in blood that has been donated.

The issue then was that people who had been in a monogamous relationship for a long period of time, and who did not have HIV when they started it, were not going to have it when they applied to give blood either, and it was discriminatory to ban them from doing so.

The new change rectifies that. I welcome it.

Source: Blood donation: Rule change means more gay and bisexual men can give blood – BBC News

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Shocking verdict in Mike’s court case against Labour means NOBODY is safe

Anybody who hands their personal information to a third party – a company, a club, a political party, the government or whoever – may see that data handed out to others or made public, with no way of seeking legal redress, according to the finding of a court case today.

And Labour members going through the party’s complaints procedure are still unlikely to get justice, even after the party promised to follow recommendations by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

These are the inevitable conclusions drawn from the verdict in This Writer’s court case, in which I accused the Labour Party of breach of contract.

I had said that Labour had failed to follow its own procedures for investigating complaints against party members after an allegation of anti-Semitism was made against me in 2017.

And I had said that a party official – or several – had leaked information, including lies, about me to the press while I was going through that process, in breach of the Data Protection Act.

Both of those claims were found to be accurate.

But in the hearing this afternoon, Deputy District Judge Whiteley said he could not uphold my case against Labour because the party’s Rule Book does not say that it must follow the procedures it has created to investigate complaints, or that it must adhere to the DPA.

That’s right. Unless an organisation’s rules specifically state that it will adhere to the Data Protection Act, then there are loopholes in the law – large enough to drive a lorry through – that mean your personal information can be passed on to anybody at all, regardless of your own wishes.

In this case, I had said somebody within the Labour Party had passed information that I had been accused of anti-Semitism to the Western Mail in 2017, and a Labour employee (I don’t know whether it was the same person) had passed false information about the allegations against me to The Sunday Times in February 2018. I said this breached the Data Protection Act because information about me had been passed on without my permission.

But Labour said that the party itself had not authorised the leak and that it had been unable to identify that anybody within its system had caused it. The party could not deny that the leak came from within Labour because the information had been generated as part of its complaint process and could only, therefore, have come from Labour.

The law states that an unincorporated association (which is how Labour is defined for legal purposes) is responsible for prohibited conduct carried out by its employees and agents against members and prospective members. Breaching the DPA would count as such.

But it also states that an association would not be legally responsible for the act of an employee that was not carried out in the course of their employment – and the court deemed that leaking information was not an act carried out in the course of their employment.

This means that any organisation that has your personal information may pass it on indescriminately – to anybody it likes, no matter what the Data Protection Act says or how avidly it states it adheres to that law, because anybody working there can follow the actions of Labour’s employee(s) and know they will get away with it.

So if you have provided your information to any third party at all, it is not safe.

Nor will it be safe until our lawmakers find a way to close this loophole in the law. They will not even consider doing so unless they are pressured into it. That will be your responsibility.

The judge also said that Labour had not breached its contract with me by failing to investigate the complaint against me according to its own procedures, because those procedures were not enshrined in the party’s Rule Book and therefore it had no obligation to follow them.

Labour leader Keir Starmer has announced that the party will follow the recommendations of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, whose report on anti-Semitism in the party contains a chapter on the failings of the process by which complaints are investigated.

The EHRC recommended that Labour should “publish a comprehensive policy and procedure, setting out how antisemitism complaints will be handled and how decisions on them will be made”.

It says the party should “develop and implement comprehensive internal guidance for all stages of the antisemitism complaints process”.

None of this means a damned thing because anybody challenging a failure by the party to follow its procedures will find that it has no obligation to do so; they are merely procedures, not rules.

Consider the way current complaints procedures have been flouted wholesale recently – not just over the suspension of Jeremy Corbyn but over complaints against allies of Starmer who have been accused of anti-Semitism – and against Starmer himself.

It seems clear that the Labour Party Rule Book is not worth the paper it is printed on – or the electricity required to put it on your screen.

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Disabled comedian Rosie Jones shames Tories with damning verdict on disability law and benefits

I didn’t see this when it was aired on the BBC’s Question Time last Thursday – and I’m sorry because it was one of the few times that sad rag of a show would have been worth watching.

To mark the 25th anniversary of the Disability Discrimination Act, comedian Rosie Jones, who happens to have cerebral palsy, was asked to comment on what it has meant for herself and other people who have disabilities.

She didn’t hold back. Her comments about the benefits Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and its successor Personal Independence Payment (PIP) were scathing.

And all through, Health Secretary Matt Hancock sat like a nodding dog. At the end, he was even smiling at the torment his government forces people to suffer:

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Starmer perverts findings of #EHRC report on #Labourantisemitism in his initial response

Keir Starmer: his response to the EHRC report on Labour anti-Semitism is a betrayal of party members and former party members who were falsely accused.

Keir Starmer: what a piece of work!

Responding to the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s report that found Labour was not guilty of “institutional anti-Semitism” – and to Jeremy Corbyn’s reaction to it, Starmer said that anybody who claimed complaints of anti-Semitism against Labour were “exaggerated” has “no place in the party”.

But the fact that complaints were exaggerated is recorded in the EHRC report.

It shows that the party was unfair to the respondent – the person complained about – in 42 of the 70 cases that it investigated.

This indicates that the extent of anti-Semitism in Labour was inflated by people making false accusations – and that Labour Party officers helped perpetuate this myth.

This Writer was among those who bore the brunt of this discrimination. I was expelled from the party under false pretences and had to go to court to point this out. The verdict in my case against the party for breach of contract will be announced on November 24.

In the meantime, I await an announcement of action against those party officers who used the complaints process to attack innocent members.

I fear I may be waiting for a long time.

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EHRC says Labour’s corrupt complaints system discriminated heavily – against people ACCUSED of anti-Semitism

 

The Labour Party discriminated against people who had been accused of anti-Semitism in a majority of its investigations, the Equality and Human Rights Commission found.

The report states: “Overall, we identified concerns about fairness to the respondent in 42 of the 70 sample files.” That’s 60 per cent of the cases the EHRC investigated.

Part 6 of the report covers “Serious failings in the antisemitism complaints handling system” – and This Writer can confirm the validity of its findings because I suffered many (if not all) of them while Labour was investigating – if we can call it that – a complaint against me.

To me, these findings indicate not only that the accusations against me were false but that the process of investigation was perverted in order to generate a false finding against me.

The report states that “the Labour Party has failed to publish a clear and comprehensive complaints or disciplinary policy or procedure” – now, in 2020 – despite the fact that “this failing was identified by the Chakrabarti report in 2016”.

It continues: “The Labour Party’s Rule Book has a high-level section on disciplinary measures by the National Executive Committee (NEC), and a more detailed appendix of procedural guidelines in disciplinary cases before the National Constitutional Committee (NCC). However, it does not include any procedural guidelines or information on antisemitism complaint handling. For example, there is no information on the different procedural stages of an antisemitism complaint.”

This is what I found when building my court case against the party for breach of contract (I said it had broken its own rules in the investigation against me): to find the procedures that should have been followed at the time of my investigation (but weren’t) I had to go to a document published online by the Huffington Post, in a report on how they were to be changed.

The EHRC report goes on to discuss a “lack of clear and fair process for respondents”. It states: “In 2017, the NEC Organisational Committee identified principles for disciplinary processes. This included that anyone accused of a disciplinary breach should be made aware of the nature of that breach in a ‘timely fashion’, and that NEC guidance notes should be drafted to ‘advise any persons under investigation of their rights and responsibilities’.”

I can assure you that this did not happen to me. The letter of suspension I received from Sam Matthews did not mention any rights that I may have had in the matter, and the only reference to the nature of the breach was the fact that the Campaign Against Antisemitism had published an article accusing me of anti-Semitism. I was never told the nature of the actual charges against me during the course of the investigation that took place between May 2017 and January 2018. When I finally got to see them in July that year – in the run-up to my hearing before the National Constitutional Committee – none of the claims in the CAA article were mentioned at all.

The report then goes into specifics:

“Our analysis of the complaint sample showed that:

• Some letters of administrative suspension failed to identify the underlying
allegations, or did so in a vague manner.

I have already demonstrated that this was true in my case.

• The system for explaining allegations to respondents and giving them an
opportunity to respond was not always effective.

After I was advised that my party membership had been suspended in May 2017, I received no contact from the Labour Party until October that year, when I was invited to an interview with an investigating officer (IO) at Transport House in Cardiff. I was not given any advance information about the allegations he was going to discuss and in the interview itself he did not explain what the allegations were. I was expected to respond “off the cuff”, rather than being given an opportunity to prepare a detailed defence with reference to the appropriate material.

• Some complaint files did not hold the identity of the complainant.

• Respondents were not told the identity of the complainant even when there
was no obvious reason to withhold their identity.

I have never learned the identity of the person who complained about me – despite several requests. Labour’s attitude was that it was of no concern to me.

• Respondents were not generally given an expected timeline for the
investigation

After attending the interview in October 2017, I was left in limbo again until December, or January the following year, when I was told informally that my case would be heard by the NEC at its next meeting. I received no official communication from Labour about it.

The next section discusses “inconsistent application of administrative suspensions” and states:

In our complaint sample we saw that:

• Suspension or removing a suspension took place in response to external
pressures.
• There was political interference in suspension decisions (we explain this in
Chapter 5).
• The Labour Party almost never kept written reasons for a decision to
suspend or a decision to lift a suspension.

I cannot comment on this as I have no information on whether my suspension took place due to external pressures or as a result of political interference. I did submit a Subject Access Request to the Labour Party, to find out more about the process, but when I finally received a response two years and two months later, much of it was blacked out.

The next section is headed “poor record-keeping” and stated that “there were documents missing in 62 of our 70 sample files”. I have no idea if documents were missing from mine as Labour has withheld that information from me.

The next section is about a “lack of guidance to the NEC and NCC” but I’ll skip that because it leads directly to something I can discuss: “unclear decision-making by the NEC and NCC”.

“NEC and NCC panels make decisions on suspension and expulsion, among
other matters,” the report states. “Given the potential consequences for the person being accused, we would expect detailed notes of NEC and NCC meetings, and the reasons for their decisions, to be recorded. This is also essential to ensure confidence in the process and to allow monitoring of decisions.

“However, the Labour Party informed us that it does not keep detailed notes of NEC antisemitism panel meetings and the reasons for the panels’ decisions. This is particularly problematic now that the NEC has the power to expel members.”

I was never provided with reasons for the NEC’s initial decision to send me for indoctrination by the Jewish Labour Movement. 

I was told about the discussion by a friendly NEC member – that my case was not on the agenda but was heard in “Any Other Business”, meaning no documentary information was provided to committee members; they were asked to listen to a verbal briefing and then come to a decision. My friendly NEC member did not, as I recall, provide any information on the reasons for their decision.

Note that I was not asked to attend and that, therefore, nothing in my defence was stated in the verbal report. I later saw a version of it (in the bundle of papers I received ahead of the NCC hearing) and it either misquoted me, twisted my words, or both. My understanding is that the only reason I wasn’t expelled on the spot was that several NEC members who were familiar with my work spoke up for me.

“We also note that an appeal to the NCC is on procedural grounds only, and question how someone can use this right properly without knowing the underlying reasoning from the NEC.”

This is curious. After I refused to go for JLM indoctrination, my case was automatically referred to the NCC. I was not informed that it was on procedural grounds; my understanding was that the panel would make its decision on the merits of the case against me and my defence against it. Indeed, I was told: “The NCC is only concerned with the procedures to be adopted after a charge is presented to it.  It is entitled to act on the basis that the charge is properly brought before it and any complaints regarding the conduct of the investigation should be addresses to the General Secretary”.

The report continues [boldings mine]: “Our analysis of the complaint sample … shows that the NEC and [NCC] do not often give reasons for their decisions; where they are given, they are often not adequate to explain why an allegation is found proven. We found unclear evidence of decision-making by the NEC and NCC in 56 of our 70 sample files.

This is clearly what happened in my case. I have seen no record of any reason given to find the case against me proven. I provided an excellent defence which was overlooked by the NEC and the NCC. Neither body provided even the slightest evidence in support of their decisions.

The next section refers to “inappropriate use of informal communications in the complaints process” and states that “The use of personal communications outside of the formal complaints process undermines confidence in the process, and affects its fairness and effectiveness.

“Because they do not form part of the complaint file process, including record-keeping, informal communications undermine scrutiny of the process.”

It goes on to discuss – and legitimise – theleaked Labour report which “referred to ‘thousands of messages exchanged on … an internal Party messaging service’ and 465,000 words in three WhatsApp groups”.

It notes that Labour did not provide these messages to the EHRC, claiming that ” it would be disproportionate and too onerous to provide this material to us”. I would have thought that would be a decision for the investigator, not the organisation being investigated.

In my own case, I am aware of only one instance of personal communication – and I found it in the files delivered to me after I made my Subject Access Request.

It refers to a complaint I made after Labour MPs Anna Turley and Wes Streeting referred to a Sunday Times report that I was an anti-Semite (using information leaked from the NEC meeting), and discusses the relevance of this matter to my NCC hearing which was still several months away at that time.

It states: “He will rightly say it is impossible to have a fair hearing if his case has been discussed publicly by senior party members, and we won’t be able to apply any sanction without it being subject” and the rest is blacked out. I subsequently received an email response saying that the matter was not a suitable subject for a complaint to the Labour Party and would be taken no further. This discouraged me from mentioning it at my NCC hearing or in the run-up to it. I now consider it to be clear evidence of an attempt to corruptly influence the outcome of that hearing.

The NCC hearing I attended was nothing more than a kangaroo court, as I have stated in previous articles. I was not allowed to conduct my case in the way I had expected, while the tribunal chair, at least, seemed to have made up her mind before the hearing began. When I received the decision notice it was that the charge against me was proved “on balance of probability” – which means nothing.

In summary: The EHRC report contains a wealth of information that the Labour Party did not only discriminate against Jewish people (and/or anybody else) complaining about anti-Semitism; it also discriminated strongly against the majority of people accused of the offence, and I am able to provide proof to support the EHRC claims.

Nobody in the mainstream media is mentioning this; neither is Labour leader Keir Starmer. They are concentrating on the claims that make Jeremy Corbyn look bad and he had nothing to do with any of the transgressions I mention above, apart from attendance at the NEC hearing.

As I mention above, I had to take a case to court in order to seek justice.

The verdict in that case is due on November 24.

What will Starmer say if it comes out in my favour?

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Court brands ‘no benefits’ rule by landlords illegal in disabled dad’s landmark case

A disabled dad suffered unfair discrimination when he was made homeless because a landlord did not accept people who receive state benefits.

The ‘no benefits’ rule meant Stephen Tyler was banned from viewing properties advertised by a Birmingham estate agent, purely on the grounds of receiving housing benefit.

Mr Tyler, 29, had been involved in a road accident in 2016. He was made homeless because of the estate agent’s “no benefits” rule.

Birmingham County Court ruled that the estate agent had breached the Equality Act because the rule disproportionally affects disabled people, who are more likely to need some support with paying their rent.

Judge Mary Stacey ruled that: “There is no doubt that there was a blanket policy that no one in receipt of housing benefit would be considered for the three properties. It put the claimant and other disabled people at a particular disadvantage when compared to others.

“To be told simply, because of his benefit status, that he could not apply for three properties which were perfectly located for his children’s school, his GP and health needs, and extended family support, […] would be distressing.

But “no benefits” discrimination is still going on (sometimes it is called “no DSS”, in reference to the former government department responsible for benefits.

This case was brought with help from homelessness charity Shelter, which has vowed to keep campaigning until the discrimination is completely stamped out.

Source: Disabled dad wins high court battle after estate agent banned him for claiming benefits – Mirror Online

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Tory ‘rape clause’ starts to fall apart: how can a woman be denied benefit for being raped in the wrong order?

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“Punish the rapist, not the victim”: Campaigners against the so-called ‘rape clause’ have been trying to overturn the rule for years.

We’ve been waiting for this for a long time.

The experience of the lady involved in this story shows that the Tories are discriminating unfairly between rape victims.

They’re saying that a person can have two children and still receive the child element of Universal Credit for a third born of rape, only if it was the third, and born after April 2017.

This clearly discriminates against mothers who have had first or second children as a result of rape, because they are then forbidden from claiming the child element of UC for a third child that they wanted.

Both situations involve two children not born of rape and one that is, but only one qualifies for the benefit.

That is unfair.

I hope someone takes a case through the courts. Perhaps this is a job for public interest solicitors like Leigh Day, who seem to have done very well with other benefit-related cases recently?

Then, with luck, we’ll be able to force the Tories to u-turn on this despicable rule that humiliates women who have already suffered too much.

Source: DWP denies mum Universal Credit for her child because she was raped in the wrong order – Mirror Online

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Floodgates open as 300+ disabled people issue court claim for Universal Credit cash

A landmark court ruling looks set to cost the Tory government a small fortune as people with disabilities line up to demand their lost cash.

More than 300 people are involved in this initial claim – but solicitors Leigh Day reckon more than 13,000 could be owed lost income totalling £170 per month or more.

Here are the details:

More than 300 severely disabled people have issued a claim in the High Court for lost income under the universal credit system.

The group, represented by Leigh Day solicitors, say they have each missed out on at least £170 a month since they were moved on to universal credit as the new benefits system has been rolled out across the UK.

All of the group were moved on to the system before January, 2019 and lost the severe disability premium which they had previously claimed, which left them worse off.

However, severely disabled people who have been moved on to universal credit since January 2019 have not missed out on the severe disability premium.

Instead, their universal credit claims have been managed by the Severe Disability premium Gateway system which has been put in place to ensure that severely disabled benefits claimants do not end up worse off under the universal credit system.

The claimants argue that they have suffered because of the unlawful implementation of the Universal Credit  (Transitional Provisions) 2014, the SDP Gateway Regulations, January 2019, and the Managed Migrations Regulations 2019.

They claim they have suffered discrimination under Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The current litigation appears to follow a Court of Appeal ruling on these issues – that the government not only discriminated against disabled people moving from Severe Disability Premium onto Universal Credit, but then tried to discriminate against them with the repayments.

The issue was discovered by two claimants, anonymised as TP and AR, whose disability benefits were cancelled when they moved from one local authority area to another. They were put on Universal Credit instead, with £180 per month wiped off the amount they were set to receive.

The government attempted to rectify the situation with regulations which stopped other severely disabled people from moving over to Universal Credit and provided those who had already moved over with back payments.

But in another failure of the kind that has made the Tory government notorious, the disabled men were only paid back at a rate of £80 a month, rather than the £180 that they had lost.

The Court of Appeal, in a unanimous judgment, agreed with lower courts that the Government had unlawfully discriminated against this cohort of severely disabled claimants.

This site previously reported that a pre-action protocol letter had been sent to Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey. Leigh Day solicitors have now issued the full claim, saying she failed to substantively respond to that letter.

They believe that up to 13,000 disabled people in the UK have been affected by the change and may be entitled to make a claim to retrieve lost benefit payments.

“Our clients believe that it clearly cannot be right that they find themselves £170 a month worse off under the universal credit system when other claimants have the assurance that they will not be worse off on universal credit,” said Leigh Day solicitor Ryan Bradshaw.

The claimants are asking the Work and Pensions Secretary for compensation equal to the amount of money they have lost following their transfer to Universal Credit, for their previous level of benefits to be restored and maintained until a lawful migration scheme is established, and for compensation for the stress they have been caused.

Source: Disabled benefit claimants issue claim for lost income under universal credit system

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Terminally-ill woman wins discrimination court case against DWP. What about those like her who have already died?

Lorraine Cox.

This is a genuine landmark judgement against the Department for Work and Pensions, and a boost for anyone with a terminal illness who cannot predict when the end will come.

It is also a blow against the tastelessness with which the Tory-run government department carries out its affairs, without the slightest pang of sensitivity about demanding that someone identifies the moment of their own death.

(For a similarly tone-deaf attitude, consider the rule that says single mothers must provide details of their rape before receiving child benefit for a third child.)

But what struck This Writer most about the story was the number of people who were shocked to read it, after I published my piece about it last week.

Lorraine Cox is only the latest in a long line of people with terminal illnesses to have suffered prejudice from the DWP, yet it seems many readers were learning about it for the first time.

The ruling that people with terminal illnesses can only receive PIP if they are likely to die within six months has been in place for years – as has the list of such illnesses on which the DWP relies.

The government has used it to discriminate against thousands, if not tens of thousands, of people before Ms Cox won her case.

What about them? What about their family and/or carers if they have passed on.

Are they due for compensation after the DWP ignored their pleas for support in their/their relatives’/friends’ twilight days?

Will they be permitted to demand recompense and restitution from the Tory-run DWP? Or will they be ignored?

I hope these are all matters the judicial review will consider.

A woman who has motor neurone disease was unjustifiably denied fast-tracked disability benefits because it was not clear how long she would survive, the High Court has ruled.

In a landmark verdict, the judge ruled Lorraine Cox, 40, suffered a breach of her human rights.

While other people with life-limiting conditions had the immediate right to enhanced payments, she was refused.

This was “manifestly without reasonable justification”, said the judge.

In court on Wednesday, Mr Justice McAlinden ruled the difference in treatment for terminally-ill claimants who cannot reasonably meet the six-month life expectancy rule was discriminatory.

He granted her leave for a judicial review.

Source: Motor neurone disease: Six-month death rule ‘discriminatory’ – BBC News

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Coronavirus: Government’s failure to offer video PIP appeals ‘is discrimination’ – Disability News Service

Discrimination is the right word for this.

Other people get the full remote service including video hearings.

But not people with disabilities.

There’s no good reason for the refusal to accommodate them.

So it has to be discrimination. And it’s no surprise, given the Conservative government’s legendary hatred of people with disabilities.

The government’s continuing failure to allow benefit appeals to be heard via video conferencing is discriminating against disabled claimants, say welfare rights experts.

Many disabled people are being forced to ask for their tribunals to be postponed, because they are only being offered a telephone hearing, says one disabled people’s organisation.

The tribunal system is not currently running face-to-face hearings because of the pandemic crisis, with judges instead deciding cases on documents alone or by holding a telephone hearing.

Disability Cambridgeshire says that telephone hearings – which involve a judge and two experts speaking on the phone to the disabled person making the appeal – can cause huge difficulty for the claimant.

It has had to seek adjournments for all but one of the personal independence payment (PIP) appeals it has been helping with since the coronavirus lockdown in March, because its advisers were not confident their disabled clients would be dealt with fairly if they had a telephone hearing.

The adjournment delay means they will be forced to cope without the benefits they are entitled to for many more months.

Video hearings, for example using the Zoom platform, are likely to be more accessible for many disabled people, including those with hearing impairments, learning difficulties or difficulties with concentration.

Source: Coronavirus: Government’s failure to offer video PIP appeals ‘is discrimination’ – Disability News Service

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