Here’s the latest e-newsletter from Disability Rights UK – as ever it’s an excellent selection of topical and useful info:
High Court rules mandatory reconsideration requirement for ESA claimants unlawful
The High Court has ruled that the requirement for an ESA claimant to go through the mandatory reconsideration process before appealing against a decision is unlawful with respect to ESA claimants who meet the conditions for payment while an appeal is pending.
Ken Butler DR UK’s Welfare Rights and Policy Adviser said:
“This is a very welcome judgment and one that will significantly benefit many ESA claimants. Its effect is that a claimant who, once they appeal would get ESA pending appeal, can go straight to appeal and will not need to submit a mandatory reconsideration request. This will mean that they will not be forced to claim Universal Credit to ensure they have an income during an unpaid mandatory reconsideration period. Once a Universal Credit claim is made, the person cannot return to ESA even though their appeal may be successful.”
Covid-19 pandemic shows our benefits system unfit for purpose, says TUC
The Covid-19 pandemic has revealed our benefits system to be unfit for purpose and needs a radical transformation, the Trade Union Congress (TUC) has said. The umbrella organisation of Britain’s trade unions argues that the failings of the UK’s social security system are the result of years of deliberate attacks on the social security system, with around £34 billion of cuts made to social security since 2010.
The TUC highlights that over a decade of austerity, including benefit caps and freezes, a punitive sanctions regime and the introduction of the five-week wait in universal credit, has pushed working families into debt and poverty and makes several recommendations for welfare reform.
Quadruple amputee’s three month wait for PIP
A woman who had a quadruple amputation has told the BBC “it makes no sense” that she will have to wait three months before being granted Personal Independence Payment (PIP).
Caroline Coster caught coronavirus in March and then had her hands and feet amputated after getting sepsis.
A government spokesman told the BBC that PIP claims could be made as soon as someone’s “needs arise or change”.
However the Department of Work and Pensions’ web pages state that to receive the benefit, people must have “a health condition or disability where you have had difficulties with daily living or getting around (or both) for three months”. It maintains that applicants will receive a backdated payment.
But Mrs Coster said: “It makes no sense to me at all. It is pretty obvious I’m going to need some help.” The delay is preventing her from completing applications for vital adaptations to her home such as ramps, a stairlift and bathroom equipment.
Ken Butler DR UK’s Welfare Rights and Policy Adviser said:
“There is a 3 months backward, 9 months forward test for PIP. However, it is possible to make an advance claim for PIP on the basis that it is likely that you will meet its qualifying conditions three months from that date (and at least 9 months after that). PIP is a benefit that recognises that disabled people have extra costs and seeks to help with these. A forward test may be ‘justified’ to ensure any health impairment is long term and not temporary. However, there is no justification for not paying someone for three months if they meet the PIP qualification tests. The rules should be changed so you can be paid PIP from day one. Many disabled people defer making a PIP claim for three months in order to meet its current waiting time test.”
‘Please give me space’: printable resources for social distancing
Changes put in place to help maintain social distancing, like new queuing systems in shops, have made it harder for many disabled people to navigate previously familiar places. At the same time, we’ve heard about disabled or older people feeling judged in the street by members of the public who haven’t understood why they haven’t been able to follow social distancing rules.
As an optional solution, sight loss charity RNIB has worked with the Cabinet Office to create some printable resources intended to be used by anyone who finds it difficult to socially distance or who is anxious about people getting too close.
The design is a circle with a person in the centre, with two arrows pointing out to either side to indicate space. It has the words ‘Please give me space’ in big, clear, letters so it can be seen from a distance. This expression was chosen because it clearly explains what is needed from other people, without people using it having to disclose their impairments.
You can download the resources from GOV.UK.
Humanists UK statement on human rights
Further to the government setting up a panel to review the use of judicial review, Humanists UK has launched a joint statement to oppose any attempt by the UK Government to restrict access to human rights laws, or to the law more generally through judicial review. Over 40 human rights-focused organisations, including DR UK, and 10 leading experts have come together to support this position.
Lloyds Bank Foundation launches £7.4m fund for charities affected by Covid-19
Lloyds Bank Foundation has launched a £7.4 million Covid-19 fund aimed at supporting charities to recover beyond the immediate crisis. The fund will offer around 140 charities a two-year unrestricted grant of £50,000 alongside a development partner.
The fund is open to charities with an income between £25,000 and £1 million a year that are helping people overcome complex social issues such as dependency, homelessness and domestic abuse. A minimum of a quarter of this funding will go to charities that are led by and for people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities.
Applications are now open and will close at 5pm on Friday 11th September 2020. For more information click here. Lloyds Bank Foundation held a Q&A webinar with their grants team that can be viewed on Youtube.