PIP Delay


PIPs disability benefit delay unlawful, says High Court

A delay in paying welfare benefits to two disabled people was "unlawful" and "unacceptable", the High Court says.

The unnamed pair waited nine months for Personal Independence Payments (PIPs), and they said this left them dependent on loan sharks and food banks.

During the test case, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) argued that it took prompt action when delays in processing claims were identified.

There are currently 78,700 people waiting to hear if they can claim PIP.

Of these, at least 3,200 people have waited more than a year to have their claims processed, and 22,800 have waited more than 20 weeks.

The court heard that the two claimants, Ms C and Mr W, asked Mrs Justice Patterson to declare that Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith breached his common law and human rights duties to make payments within a reasonable time.

This breach was caused, they said, because of the magnitude of the delay.

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

Most vulnerable'

The claimants in the test case said delays meant they struggled to pay for food and fuel, and this caused their health to decline.

Their lawyers said they had a right to the benefits and should have received them within a "reasonable time".

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

Justice Patterson said in Ms C's case the delay was some 13 months, from 9 September 2013, until the determination of her benefit on 24 October 2014.

In Mr W's case the delay was from 3 February 2014 until December 2014.

The judge said both cases suffered significant disabilities and therefore called for "expeditious consideration".

She added: "They were each to be regarded as the most vulnerable people in society."

17 Replies

  • I feel for all those waiting, in hardship, scrabbling to hold lives together, deteriorating due to extra unnecessary stress. Oh Seascape, I feel how such suffering is intolerable.

    So it feels tremendous to hear of this test case and thank goodness that judge had capacity to understand and act compassionately, for true rights and justice. Let's trust this sets a strong and healthy precedent to support all who are in genuine need, including the most vulnerable and disadvantaged and to wake-up DWP to the consequences of such unacceptable and unlawful delay.

    Thanks so much for sharing.

  • I thought how badly the DWP treatment affected your own heath RockRose so unfair calling it unlawfull is little justice for the suffering caused.

  • Yes, is true Seascape, appreciating the empathy and understanding as always, thank you x

    And my hope is that although its a drop in the ocean, perhaps the judge's ruling will wake-up DWP to sleeken the process and timing...

    And yes, I have deteriorated and that's only after 5 months and I can only begin to imagine how it is for those waiting a year...So really hope and trust this will be a strong catalyst for DWP to make internal changes...to ensure the right help reaches the right people.

    As for me, I'm actually taking my case to a tribunal and too poorly to do so - I nearly gave up - yet everso luckily found an advocate who is doing all the things I can't. Without her, I'd have had to stop because the whole thing is too much to do, only to be disbelieved...Yet I passionately feel its important to go forwards, not only for me but to highlight the nature of this condition and get it into the pool of decision-maker's experience... A tiny drop...yet drop by drop, perhaps influence builds. Thanks again Seasacape, gently hoping green shoots keep nourished and supported, so precious.

  • I think they choose the weak that cannot fight back which cheered me up when the judge said most vulnerable the green shoots are recognised as precious.

  • I am so sorry to hear how you are suffering through this, RockRose. I know that what you are doing IS important for your sake and the sake of many others. Although I have never recovered from my own horrible tribunal hearing, which even had a positive outcome in the end, I still would not change my decision to do it. At least I got enough DLA to pay for some home help, and no more feel like I am living in a garbage dump and unworthy of even the most basic standard of living in a first world society.

  • I really feel for what you went through with your (horrible) tribunal dear Budgiefriend. I wish I could wave a wand (retrospectively) to ease you from all you faced and suffered, to get the positive result that enabled some much-needed care and dignity.

    Yes, I feel the cost to my health of this process and instinctively feel the process would be kinder if done some other way, rather than having to 'fight' when so unwell.

    Thanks to your kind response the other day, I've enlisted an advocate to help me...and I'm waiting to have confirmation from the local law centre that a lawyer will represent me free of charge.

    I've also now seen all the papers the DWP used to make their decision and whilst I'm out of steam to go through with a fine tooth comb, I can spot some obvious errors and mistakes, so hope the lawyer will be able to put that across better than I can. I'm also getting my GP to write a new report in case with the additional info the DWP can revise their decision without going as far as a tribunal...Phew...

    let's see !

    I so appreciate your support and intelligent interest Budgiefriend, that means a lot because you know firsthand what its like.

  • Wow! That sounds excellent. I was not aware that actual legal advocates were available for free. I had a specialist from the local ME charity who was expert at doing it, and she also encouraged me to go ahead and ask for reconsideration to increase the two rates when the just renewed it at the same levels. She would have accompanied me to a tribunal.

    I was lucky to have a good woman from CAB accompany to an Incapacity Benefit tribunal several years back.

    I would imagine they will take more care to decide fairly with a legal person advising you.

  • Legal advocates fighting unlawful decisions of a government department when the government makes the laws how confusing.

  • agreed... head-spinningly stupid and wasteful, but that's what we have... and it is similar in other developed countries. One presumes that in undeveloped countries, anything is fair game... lawlessness does not seem preferable, but one would think we would have come farther than this. People need reminding that we are all human beings and here to treat one another as members of the same big family. Or is that only my sense of how things should work?

  • Make laws then follow them makes sense on how things should work.

  • Surprising judgement there was no compassion when ESA sanctions were killing people

  • Think they need a wise judge just the same.

  • Hope is fragile keep it safe

  • We must dare for hope its depressing without any hope.

  • Agreed Seascape

  • Where their cases were heard by a court and decided, how many hundreds of thousands get no justice or help during those long months?

    How many are made worse, and how many will deteriorate or descend to such hopelessness to take their own lives?

    The DWP are refusing to publish their known figures on the latter tragic human losses due to their negligence and callous attitude to claimant need.

  • Agreed, Budgiefriend