Campaigner Steve Sumpter has today lost his court battle to have the 20 metre limit for personal independence payment mobility component overturned. The judge did not accept the argument that the consultation process was so flawed as to be unlawful.
However, it was only the fact that the DWP launched a second consultation after Sumpter, represented by Public Law solicitors, launched his challenge that saved the DWP from a major disaster.
The judge said that the first consultation had been “mind–bogglingly opaque” and that:
“ ... had it been necessary for me to have determined whether the consultation process would have been fair if it had stopped in December 2012..., the question would have been difficult and it should not be assumed that I would have found it to have been fair and lawful. Indeed, I have the gravest doubt as to whether I would have found it to be so.”
A report to ministers disclosed in court also revealed that they are very clearly aware that the introduction of PIP will harm the daily lives of many disabled people:
“ In developing the PIP assessment we were aware that the vast majority of recipients of DLA were individuals with genuine health conditions and disabilities and genuine need, and that removing or reducing that benefit may affect their daily lives...”
Sumpter and his legal team are now considering whether they can take the matter further. His solicitor, Karen Ashton said:
“The result is very disappointing . This is an incredibly important issue for many thousands of people with severe physical disabilities. The higher rate of mobility benefit can make an extraordinary difference to a disabled person’s life. Imagine not being able to get to the shop to do your own shopping or to visit friends because you have no way of getting there but to travel by taxi and you can’t afford the fare. This is what this reform may mean to the many thousands of the most severely physically disabled who will be affected by this change. We will be looking carefully at the possibility of an appeal. ”
More details on the Latent Existence site.