British Lung Foundation
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The DWP suffered a crushing defeat this morning after a university graduate and a mechanic took them to court over being forced to do unpaid labour in return for their benefits. Having lost in the High Court, the duo, supported by the public law project, won their case at the Court of Appeal .

Most of the government's back to work schemes were declared illegal by the court and any sanctions against claimants who failed to participate in forced labour will now have to be repaid by the DWP.

However, by this afternoon employment minister Mark Hoban announced that the government is already exploring a number of options to avoid repaying sanctioned benefits to claimants and that new regulations are being enacted – possibly today - to try to ensure that forced labour can carry on as before .

The court ruling is a huge embarrassment to the DWP and it may find it difficult, in practice, to refuse to repay sanctioned benefits, although it can certainly drag the process out for a very long time even if its proposed appeal to the Supreme Court fails.


The DWP appear to be planning to only pay the enhanced rate of the mobility component of PIP on physical grounds to claimants whose mobility is so restricted that they have difficulties moving between rooms indoors. Those who can manage indoors but have difficulty outdoors may only be awarded the lower rate of the mobility component.

Atos and Capita, the companies carrying out PIP assessments, have been told that:

“20 metres is considered to be the distance that a claimant is required to be able to walk in order to achieve a basic level of independence in the home such as the ability to move between rooms.

“50 metres is considered to be the distance that a claimant is required to be able to walk in order to achieve a basic level of independence such as the ability to get from a car park to the supermarket.”

To score the required 12 points to get enhanced rate mobility for physical health problems alone, a claimant must prove that they can’t stand and move more than 20 metres even using aids and/or with assistance. This means that in the majority of cases the private sector health professionals are likely to be looking for evidence that the claimant has problems with indoor mobility, rather than outdoor, if they are to be awarded the enhanced rate.


Meanwhile another group of claimants has secured legal support to challenge the last-minute change to the PIP regulations which deny enhanced rate mobility to anyone who can stand and move more than 20 metres.

They will be arguing that the failure to consult about the reduction of the limit from 50 metres to 20 metres means that the change is unlawful and should thus be quashed. If successful it would be a bigger blow to the government than today’s forced labour ruling. The result would be that the DWP would be obliged to consult all over again on the changes before they can be introduced. In the end they can still ignore the results of a new consultation, but they will face a very determined battle and will have no opportunity to claim that disability organisations supported the changes.

At the very least it would set the introduction of PIP back months. At best it could even result in a fairer set of rules for the mobility component.


7 Replies

how could it be unpaid? they were getting money from the government i.e the tax payer


when i was working if i refused to go to work my pay was stopped


The company who is making use of people who are being paid by the tax payer, is getting staff for nothing, therefore my money that I pay on tax is 'helping out and increasing profits'

for companies like pound land. I've I owned a company I would be wringing my hands with glee, all that labour for nothing, place I work has had 3 people so far on the internship scheme, all of them had well off parents who could sub them out, none of them got a job at the end of 6 months, even though they worked their socks off, we've just taken on another 2, CEO said it makes good economic sense, just good for thought x x


No not unpaid, but would you work a full week for £57 or what ever it is with nothing at the end. If unemployed people are made to work then they should be paid a proper wage like every one else. It is nothing but exploitation.


And if greedy companies can get staff for nothing then it will increase unemployment. The answer is to invest in the economy and create more jobs. Not what this terrible Government is doing. I am unemployed. I am happy to work if I could get a job!

And if I am forced to work for my benefits will they take into account my health problems? Bet they wouldn't.

Bev x


If there going to try and force the fit and healthy into unpaid work then god help the rest of us who is going to give someone with copd a job when there likely to be off sick with exasperations every winter or anyone with a disability who gets ill from time to time cancer. Diabetes and many many other illnesses and disabilities.when theres so many millions of fit healthy people to choose from out there ..if i went for an interveiw for a job and put down all my health problems..i would not give me a job.when theres a million others to choose from.. bit by bit we shall lose money one way or the other and chucked on the heap.


It never ceases to amaze me to what lengths this government will go to to not pay disabled people, not payback people who successfully win against them. To my reckoning disabled people are their main target. I may be wrong but that is how it seems to me xxxxx


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