Tag Archives: severe

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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Did DWP torture this disabled benefit claimant until he died?

There are many kinds of torture – not just physical but also psychological.

This Writer has to ask whether the Department for Work and Pensions used psychological torture on a disabled benefit claimant by its own failures to carry out its duties properly.

DWP officers had left the claimant to be supported by an elderly, disabled parent – his appointee – who also needed daily carers and meals delivered.

Departmental guidance states that they should have found another appointee – but they did not do so. Why not?

Instead, the claimant’s ESA and PIP were repeatedly stopped due to failure to attend assessments, because letters were sometimes sent to the claimant’s address and sometimes to his parent’s.

The benefits were restarted after interventions – but the DWP has apparently lost the evidence showing why the claims had been restarted.

There are supposed to be safeguarding procedures to protect vulnerable benefit claimants but – as we discovered after the death of Jodey Whiting – nothing has been done to encourage officers to follow them.

In this case, the DWP repeatedly failed to follow its own safeguarding procedures, despite the fact that officers knew the claimant was vulnerable.

In addition to physical health problems, this claimant had severe depression. At one point, a sibling contacted the DWP to say that the claimant’s GP had sent them for psychiatric assessment due to a deterioration in their mental health.

The sibling explained that they had been to the claimant’s house and found unopened post and said they weren’t fit for a PIP assessment, but another such interview was arranged – by letter.

The result was predictable: the claimant didn’t answer the door and their PIP was stopped. The same also happened in relation to their ESA claim.

The claimant died – underweight, “unkempt and dirty” – after having been denied ESA for three months and PIP for three weeks.

His parent had been providing cash for food, even though that person had their own care package, meals prepared and carers attending daily.

The claimant’s sibling complained to the DWP and the government department made a payment of ESA arrears and £3,000 of backdated PIP.

Unsatisfied, the sibling took the matter to the Independent Case Examiner, who ruled that a further payment of £10,700 in PIP be paid to the claimant’s estate and a consolatory payment of £2,500 to the family.

And a fat lot of good it dead the deceased man!

But think how much the DWP saved; one-off payments totalling £16,200 – which included arrears, remember – is much less than might have been handed out if the claimant had remained alive.

So I have to ask: did DWP officers deliberately push this claimant to death?

They knew he suffered from severe depression but chose to mess him around.

Brown envelope phobia is a known phenomenon in which depressed people avoid opening letters from the DWP – so they sent him letters that they knew he would never read.

They deliberately failed to find a new appointee, and sent important notifications to the claimant’s former appointee – knowing that he would not be able to read them.

Another known behaviour of depressed benefit claimants is aversion to confrontations with DWP-appointed benefits assessors; they believe (justifiably, as many documented cases show) that they’ll be cheated out of payments.

But these DWP officers still sent an assessor to this claimant’s address anyway. Is it really credible for them to say they did not expect what happened?

Or were they deliberately inflicting psychological torture on a man with severe – mark that: severe – mental health problems?

To This Writer, the evidence is clear: the problem at the DWP is systemic – people there are encouraged to ignore their duty of care to claimants.

But with the Court of Appeal refusing to allow another inquest in the case of Jodey Whiting, it seems impossible to bring the evidence needed to prove it into the light of day.

Is the whole of the UK’s benefit and legal system rigged to push vulnerable people to their deaths and then hide the facts, simply because they happen to be sick and/or have a disability?

Source: Disabled claimant died underweight, ‘unkempt and dirty’ after ESA and PIP wrongly stopped | Disability Rights UK

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Trickster Coffey: she says disabled people should switch to Universal Credit – where they’ll be worse-off

Therese Coffey: you wouldn’t think she was trying to get her jollies by encouraging people to quit legacy benefits for Universal Credit with a false claim that they’ll be better-off, would you?

Did Therese Coffey get her doctorate in lying to people?

Having refused calls to extend the £20-per-week Universal Credit uplift to so-called “legacy benefits” that sick and disabled people receive – Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and others – she has suggested that they should claim UC instead.

People on Severe Disablement Premium (SDP) were unable to make that move until Wednesday (January 27) – when the Tories removed that barrier.

But charities have warned that this is a trap.

People with long-term illnesses and disabilities are more likely to lose money if they switch to UC and, once they have made the move, there is no going back.

It’s just another example of Tory discrimination against people with disabilities, that has reached new heights in the Covid-19 crisis, which they have used as an excuse for persecution.

People who’ve been on SDPs can get £120, £285 or £405 per month in transition payments – depending on their circumstances. But DWP officials have confirmed these payments “will be subject to erosion and cessation” over time.

And the Disability Rights UK group has claimed that, “after transitional help is eroded after time”, Universal Credit will be “significantly less generous” than legacy benefits for disabled people.

So the two-tier discrimination against people with disabilities in fact continues, no matter whether they are on “legacy benefits” or Universal Credit.

This Writer’s advice is clear: stay where you are. Don’t give Trickster Coffey the giggle she wants to get from hurting you.

Source: Fears as DWP chief urges disabled people to switch to Universal Credit from Wednesday – Mirror Online

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Are bookies targeting disabled people?

Money: People who become disabled due to medical mess-ups get big compensation payments. Are bookies trying to get them to gamble it all away?

If bookmakers allowed one severely disabled man, feeding his gambling addiction until they had taken everything he had, how many others are getting the same treatment?

The Guardian is reporting that Ladbrokes Coral and Paddy Power are accused of fuelling Liam McCarron’s gambling addiction until he had squandered his compensation from a botched operation that left him severely disabled.

It is alleged that they helped him fill out betting slips as he frittered away his payout.

By the time he was eventually barred from gambling, his losses amounted to half a million pounds.

The firms say they didn’t do anything wrong.

But here’s the question:

How many other people with severe disabilities are losing their cash in the same way? And are they being targeted?

Source: Bookmakers ‘helped gambling addict squander injury compensation’ | Society | The Guardian

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Tories launch court battle to strip severely disabled people of sorely-needed benefits

How can the Tories justify their determination to retain the discredited Universal Credit ‘benefit’ when the courts have ruled that it deliberately makes disabled people worse-off?

Not only that, but the courts also ruled that the Tory government lied to benefit claimants when they were told they wouldn’t lose money.

Judges ruled that the uneven rollout of Universal Credit makes the benefit system a postcode lottery, with people moving into areas with the new system likely to be seriously disadvantaged.

And – possibly worst of all – why are the Tories determined to waste public money appealing against those rulings in court when it is clear that, in legal terms, they don’t have a leg to stand on?

That is what the Tories are doing to two disabled men – known only as TP and AR.

They had been forced onto Universal Credit when they moved into a local authority area where the new system had been rolled out.

This meant they lost out on the Severe Disability Premium (SDP) and Enhanced Disability Premium (EDP), leaving them suddenly around £180 a month out-of-pocket, despite being repeatedly assured they would not be worse off.

A High Court judge found that this was unlawful because those that moved to a different local authority area were being treated differently to those who moved within their local authority area – the Tory government had created a postcode lottery.

Take note of this:

The judgment in this first case described a “striking” lack of evidence from the [then-] Secretary of State that she had understood or considered the far-reaching consequences for severely disabled people who moved into a different local authority and would be forced onto Universal Credit.

As a result of the case, the Tory government proposed that those who had already moved onto Universal Credit would receive transitional top-up payments – but at a rate of £80 per month rather than the £180 per month they had actually lost.

TP and AR again took the Tories to court, arguing that short-changing them was unlawful as they were being unjustifiably treated differently to those who had not moved onto to Universal Credit and would continue to receive the full amount of SDP and EDP. The High Court again found in their favour.

And now the Tory government is appealing against both decisions.

Rather than accept the self-evident facts that their flagship “benefit” system is deliberately depriving severely disabled people of the money they need simply to survive – and rectify the change…

The Tories are demanding that the courts rubber-stamp this act of governmental daylight robbery.

And they are currently campaigning to win a general election, with a claim that they will solve problems with Universal Credit, when in fact they are actively trying to make it worse.

These are all excellent reasons to vote Labour – that party will abolish Universal Credit once and for all.

Source: Court of Appeal to hear two Universal Credit claims

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Homeless man suffers ‘severe burns’ after being attacked and set on fire

This could happen to any of us – including the culprits.

Thanks to our charming, caring, compassionate Conservative government, millions of UK citizens have savings of less than £100, are in jobs that are slowly putting them in debt, or are on benefits that may be suspended at any time, for the flimsiest reasons.

It is easier to lose your home now than at any time in nearly 80 years at least.

And thanks to Tory propaganda, people who are homeless are considered to be less than human, and are often treated as such.

It’s a fascist attitude, and it leads to crimes like this.

The Tories mouth regretful platitudes but actions speak louder than words and while they could reverse the trend of increasing homelessness, they don’t.

The victim of this attack will survive. One day he may even get a home. But his hands will never be the same again.

All due to the blind, unthinking hate fostered by Tory “divide and conquer” policies.

A homeless man has been “deliberately” set on fire as he was sleeping in a park.

West Midlands Police believe two people approached the victim in the Swanswell Park and Pool area of Coventry, poured lighter fluid over his hands and then set him alight.

Investigators said the man was thought to have suffered “severe burns”.

The attack took place some time on late Saturday night or the early hours of Sunday morning, they added.

Earlier this month a homeless man was left with nothing but the clothes on his back after his van was engulfed by flames in what is suspected to be a deliberate attack in Whitstable, Kent.

Source: Homeless man ‘deliberately’ set on fire as he slept in park, police say | The Independent

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Hunt trolls NHS staff by praising rota showing dangerous staff shortages

Evolve Politics has also published a decent article on this subject, here.

How does this man get to remain Secretary of State for Health and Social Care?

Jeremy Hunt has issued a tweet claiming that he is proud of the appalling staff shortages he has created in the National Health Service.

See for yourself (hint: red means bad):

See, he wasn’t showing how safe staffing levels were being maintained; he was proving that they aren’t.

Every red box on that rota means at that time of day, on that ward, patients were considered to be at high risk due to understaffing.

On the early shift, only two wards have adequate staff. In contrast, no less than 11 wards have an inadequate number of nurses and are labelled “high risk”.

And everybody realised exactly what it said:

This is what happens when Tories start tinkering with organisations they simply don’t understand. And it will get worse, unless they are stopped:

So let’s stop them.

You can start by joining the NHS day of action on February 3:

There will be another day of action on February 3:

If you can attend both, please do. Only by keeping up the pressure can we overcome the Tory government and its automatic bias against a health service that exists not for profit, but to serve the needs of the people.


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Embarrassing leaked Treasury document shows Tory finances are badly off-target

Philip Hammond: The last time I saw a face like that, Josef Goebbels was behind it [Image: PA Wire].

Philip Hammond: The last time I saw a face like that, Josef Goebbels was behind it [Image: PA Wire].

An article on the UK’s financial system was on its way from This Blog when the news broke about the Treasury’s dire performance; I wanted to sharpen my claws for the Autumn Statement.

We all knew the news was going to be bad – didn’t we? So I was going to say how useful it is for Philip Hammond to have a job that requires him to give speeches, simply in order to prevent the rest of us from making a natural assumption and putting him in a coffin.

I was also going to suggest that – when he does make speeches – his face reminds me of nobody else but Josef Goebbels, the minister for propaganda in Nazi Germany; a comparison that is likely to be all-too-appropriate if he tries to put an optimistic spin on this mess.

Who was the fool who forecast a 27 per cent deficit reduction this year, anyway? Was it George Osborne? Ye gods.

Yes, it was the towel-folder. Having failed to meet any of his deficit-reduction targets – at all – he pencilled in a borrowing reduction of £20 billion, to £55 billion by the end of March next year. So far, borrowing is indeed lower – but by only 2.3 billion.

Osborne’s prediction is likely to be adrift by £16 billion by the time the financial year finally grinds to a halt.

And now the UK is having to find extra money to pay an angry EU, at a time when income is likely to drop as confidence starts to waver in the face of unremitting incompetence from Theresa May and her clique.

No wonder Hammond remains “committed to fiscal discipline”.

It means he’ll squeeze the poor until we starve, just to keep borrowing at the same rate as last year. Tories always take more from the state than they ever pay back.

The chancellor’s plans to reduce the deficit are unlikely to get back on track this year, an internal briefing document for ministers has revealed.

The Treasury document, which was marked “sensitive”, also revealed the UK faced a £700m bill after the EU referendum result, with Britain’s contribution to the EU growing by 25.9% compared with the same period last year.

Treasury sources, who said the document was posted in error on the government’s website, said the most recent payments had been larger than usual because of smaller payments made earlier in the year.

The briefing warns that the government is “unlikely to bring deficit reduction entirely back on track” and that the “continuing run of disappointing data” meant there was a “severe worsening in the public finances”.

“For the year to date the deficit is £2.3bn lower than last year; at a fall of 4.8%, well behind the 27.0% reduction forecast,” the document says.

The chancellor, Philip Hammond, has insisted since October that although the government will not now seek a surplus by 2020, it remains “committed to fiscal discipline”.

Source: UK budget deficit plan off target – secret Treasury document | Politics | The Guardian

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