UK High Court quashes new disability welfare payment regulations on grounds of discrimination

The UK High Court has quashed the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) Regulations as they discriminated against those suffering from mental health conditions, in breach of the Human Rights Act 1998.

In March 2017, new PIP regulations were introduced which prevented people qualifying for enhanced mobility payments in cases where someone could not travel independently on the grounds of psychological distress.

The Court held that the Secretary of State had acted ultra vires his powers under Part 4 of the Welfare Reform Act 2012 and had failed to engage in adequate consultation, as the Regulations were fundamentally contrary to the very purpose of the PIP system. The Court found that the decision to introduce the Regulations was ‘manifestly without reasonable foundation’ and that the wish to save money could not justify such an unreasonable measure. In all, the Regulations were deemed to be “blatantly discriminatory against those with mental health impairments and which cannot be objectively justified.”

The case was taken by the Public Law Project and supported by The National Autistic Society, Inclusion London, Revolving Doors and Disability Rights UK. All of the latter organisations gave statements to the court that the Regulations were unfair and that the intention to treat those with psychological distress differently had not been made clear in the early PIP consultation stages. The claim was also supported by two interveners: Mind and the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC). The EHRC made written submissions to the Court on the ongoing and persistent breaches by the UK Government of its obligations under UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities arising from its austerity measures. The Court found that this inconsistency with the UN Convention supported his finding that the measure had no objective justification.

Click here for the full judgment in RF v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.



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