Latest Public Sector News

05.06.15

High Court rules that PIPs delays are unlawful

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) took an “unlawful and unacceptably long time” to pay the new personal independence payments (PIPs) to two unnamed disabled people, a high court judge has ruled.

The two claimants, known as Ms C and Mr W, had claimed because of the magnitude of the DWP had breached common law and human rights duties to make payments within a reasonable time.

They said they had struggled to pay for food and fuel while waiting for the benefits and this caused their health to decline.

The DWP had agreed the delays were unacceptable but argued they were not unlawful, and said more than 800 extra staff were assigned to work on PIPs after problems emerged.

The judge ruled the delay in both cases was “not only unacceptable, as conceded by the defendant, but was unlawful”.

But the court ruled the pair's human rights were not breached, which means they are not entitled to compensation.

PIP payments are replacing the disability living allowance (DLA) in a government overhaul of the benefits system.

The new scheme has been beset by problems and delays since it launched. Waiting times for a decision, or even an assessment for PIP, has for many people taken months. Iain Duncan Smith himself admitted in June last year that the delays were unacceptable.

The court heard at a recent hearing that vulnerable people have been forced to turn to loan sharks and food banks because of the delays in providing them with PIPs.

The minister for Disabled People, Justin Tomlinson, said work was being done to reduce the delays.

“We have taken decisive action to speed up Pip waiting times and we are pleased the court has recognised the huge progress made,” he said. “The average new Pip claimant now waits only seven weeks for an assessment.

“The court has rightly dismissed the claimants' absurd suggestion that their human rights had been breached. As a result, they are not entitled to damages.”

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