In a shock move the DWP have today completely abandoned their attempts to discriminate against claimants with mental health conditions trying to claim the mobility element of Personal Independence Payment (PIP). It has been estimated that the move will affect around 160,000 PIP claimants.
This victory was only made possible by the bravery of a single claimant and the generosity of Benefits and Work readers, who raised most of the funding to bring the case in the first place.
Less than a week ago we wrote about the case known as RF, in which a claimant won a vital high court challenge against changes to the law relating to PIP mobility brought in last March.
The changes made it much harder for claimants who have difficulty going out because of overwhelming psychological distress to successfully claim the PIP mobility component.
It was very widely expected that the DWP would appeal against this decision.
But, in an astonishing turnaround, the new secretary of state for work and pensions, Esther McVey announced today that the DWP would not be challenging the decision.
Not only that, but McVey also revealed that the DWP will no longer be challenging the decision in the case known as MH. It was this case that prompted the changes in the law last March.
Now, however, they are accepting the original decision in MH and McVey says the DWP will:
“. . . now undertake an exercise to go through all affected cases in receipt of PIP and all decisions made following the judgment in MH to identify anyone who may be entitled to more as a result of the judgment. We will then write to those individuals affected, and all payments will be backdated to the effective date in each individual claim.”
You can read McVey’s full statement here.
Funded by you
Back in May 2017, through the newsletter we asked our readers to contribute to crowdfunding appeal for a legal challenge by a claimant known as Billie who has severe mental health issues. As a result Billie is extremely vulnerable when travelling. She needs a lot of support to do this reliably and safely.
Billie was refused an award of the mobility component of PIP under the new regulations and bravely launched a challenge with the help of the Public Law Project.
Billie needed £3,000 to begin the process.
When our newsletter went out Billie had raised £750. Within just a few hours our readers had pushed the total past the £3,000 mark. In the end you helped to raise over £8,000 towards Billie’s legal costs.
You also posted dozens of messages of support for Billie.
At the time Billie told us:
“I’m utterly overwhelmed by everyone’s generosity and support.
“There have been many tough decisions in standing up to take this case to the High Court.
“The speed with which your readers pledged money and their comments made me realise just how many people are angry about these changes, and are behind me.
“I was literally crying with relief watching the pledges flood in from so many strangers.”
The DWP say they will be contacting individuals affected by their change of heart. However, it’s not clear how they will decide who they think has been affected or how they will contact them.
We’ll be keeping you posted and offering guidance in future updates about what steps to take to make sure you aren’t overlooked, if you believe you have been affected.
But for now we’re just delighted to be able to celebrate a hugely successful case brought by a claimant, funded by claimants and fought with the support of the voluntary sector.
Here’s hoping there will be many more.