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High Court rules disabled benefit delays are unlawful

IAIN DUNCAN SMITH fell foul of the courts yet again yesterday when a judge ruled that delays paying new benefits to two disabled claimants were both “unacceptable” and “unlawful.”

The High Court was told at a recent hearing that vulnerable people had been forced to turn to loan sharks and foodbanks due to delays in providing them with the personal independence payment (PIP).

PIP is designed to help disabled adults meet the extra costs caused by disability and is replacing the disability living allowance (DLA) as part of the Tories’ overhaul of the benefits system.

Claimants dubbed Ms C and Mr W asked Ms Justice Patterson to declare that, because of the magnitude of the delay, Work and Pensions Secretary Mr Duncan Smith breached his common law and human rights duties to make payments within a reasonable time.

In Ms C’s case payment was delayed from September 9 2013 until the determination of her benefit on October 24 2014.

In Mr W’s case the delay was some 10 months, from February 3 2014 until December 2014.

Mrs Justice Patterson said both cases had called for “expeditious consideration” as they both suffered significant disabilities.

“They were each to be regarded as the most vulnerable people in society,” she said.

In each case, she found that the delay was “not only unacceptable, as conceded by the defendant, but was unlawful.”

Richard Kramer of the national deafblind charity Sense said: “The legal ruling gives a human face to the significant levels of stress and suffering felt by disabled people as a result of system delays.

“The case is a reminder that there is some way to go before the system can be regarded as fit for purpose and customer-facing for all disabled people.”

Responding to the ruling, public-sector union PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “We pay tribute to the claimants but they should never have had to resort to the courts.

“Cases like this expose Iain Duncan Smith’s brutal, unforgiving and suspicious attitude to people who rely on social security and the failure of privatisation to offer the kind of help and support DWP staff want to provide.”

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