A London based charity has welcomed a High Court ruling that the Government took an ‘unlawful and unacceptably long time’ to pay new welfare benefits to two unnamed disabled people.
Z2K campaigns against unfairness in the benefits system and intervened in the case.
Joanna Kennedy said:
We are delighted that Mrs Justice Patterson has deemed the delay in processing Pip claims both unreasonable and unlawful, at the same time as recognising the crippling hardship caused by such delays.
It is, however, disappointing that she decided against treating the claimants as test cases.
The charity provided further evidence based on their clients’ experience of delay they’d been experiencing:
We explained how the delays had left many claimants experiencing severe financial hardship and being forced to borrow from friends or turn to loan sharks because they did not have enough to live on.
Z2K documentary on what it means to be poor and on benefits in London
What as the case about?
The case is about the delays in providing personal independence payments (Pips) that are replacing the disability living allowance (DLA) in sweeping Government reforms of the benefits system.
They’re designed to help disabled adults meet the extra costs caused by disability.
Two unammed claimants, Ms C and Mr W, asked Mrs Justice Patterson to declare that – because of the magnitude of the delay – Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith breached his common law and human rights duties to make payments within a reasonable time.
The judge ruled the delay in both cases was ‘not only unacceptable, as conceded by the defendant, but was unlawful.’
In Ms C’s case the delay was some 13 months, from September 9 2013 until the determination of her benefit on October 24 2014.
In Mr W’s case the delay was some ten months, from February 3 2014 until December 2014.
Ms C, from Kent, has been diagnosed with ME and suffers from severe depression and other health problems.
Speaking last month, she said:
The delay had a massive impact on my life. I applied for Pips so I could look after myself, but without it I could barely eat and only ever left my house for a weekly trip to a supermarket.
I was completely isolated during the nine months I was waiting for my payments. While my wait came to an end, it is worrying that many, many others have still not received a decision.
The High Court’s decision
Mrs Justice Patterson also awarded £1000 and £500 in compensation to the claimants for the distress they’d suffered as a result of the substantial delay.
However she also refused to treat the claimants as test cases and insisted she was ruling on their individual circumstances alone.