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50shadesofsun

News and Opinions about MS, Health & Disability

Government surrender in benefits battle

A government U-turn, in the face of court judgment, means almost 165,000 people will benefit from higher disability benefits. Conservative politicians had tried to prevent people with psychological distress from receiving higher rates of Personal Independence Payment (PIP). But the judges said ‘no’.

u-turn

Esther McVey, work and pensions secretary.

The UK government had been thought likely to challenge the court ruling, and had said it would cost an extra £3.7bn to reverse the changes it had made.

Now though, like a coward in the face of enemy fire, it has deserted its position and run for cover. Figuratively raising the white flag of surrender, new work and pensions secretary Esther McVey has ruled out fresh legal action. She did so in a written statement to parliament.

U-turn on PIP welcomed

Disability campaigners have welcomed the U-turn. Just as I do.

It all started early last year, when new regulations said that people who could not travel independently on the grounds of psychological distress, as opposed to other conditions, were not entitled to the enhanced mobility rate of Personal Independence Payment.

Ministers dismissed criticism from an independent tribunal before the High Court ruled that they were “blatantly discriminatory”.

In her statement to the House of Commons, Ms McVey said that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) “will now take all steps necessary to implement the judgment in the best interests of our claimants, working closely with disabled people and key stakeholders over the coming months.” She added that all payments would be backdated to the date in each individual claim.

“Although I and my department accept the High Court’s judgement, we do not agree with some of the detail contained therein.

Identify claimants entitled to more

“Our intention has always been to deliver the policy intent of the original regulations, as approved by parliament, and to provide the best support to claimants with mental health conditions,” she said.

The DWP must now identify people who may be entitled to more as a result of the court judgement.

Labour’s shadow work and pensions secretary Debbie Abrahams said ministers had been wrong to “ignore” the view of an independent tribunal and to try and “defend the indefensible”.

Disability charity Scope chief executive Mark Atkinson described the original proposals as discriminatory.

He said: “This announcement is a victory for the many disabled people who have been unable to access support they are entitled to. The regulations introduced last March made crude and unfair distinctions between those with physical impairments and mental health conditions.”

Fine, now let’s see how quickly the DWP translates its defeat into action that helps people. I suspect higher payments may be a long time coming.

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Affiliate disclaimer: This affiliate disclosure details the affiliate relationships of MS, Health & Disability at 50shadesofsun.com with other companies and products. Read more.

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50shadesofsun.com is the personal website of Ian Franks, a freelance medical writer and editor for various health information sites. He enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor in the print media. He gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. Ian received a diagnosis of MS in 2002 and now lives in the south of Spain. He uses a wheelchair and advocates on mobility and accessibility issues.

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Note: Health-related information available on 50shadesofsun website is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. I am not a doctor and cannot and do not give you medical advice. You should seek prompt medical care for any specific health issues and consult a doctor before starting a new diet or exercise programme. Any opinions expressed are purely my own unless otherwise stated.

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More lies from a disability minister – this time to MPs

As soon as Esther McVey was work and pensions secretary, one of her junior minister  told lies to MPs. Not that parliamentarians call it telling lies. In their terms, disabilities minister Sarah Newton misled the house of commons.

lies

Sarah Newton MP, minister for people with disabilities.

Now, Department of Work and Pensions officials are making excuses. A DWP spokeswoman told Disability News Service the minister had not intended to discuss the proceedings in any depth, and: “The preparation for the ILF debate was carried out well before the reshuffle, and the minister had no prior knowledge of its outcome.”

The problem is, what Ms Newton told the house although McVey’s 2012 decision to close the Independent Living Fund (ILF) was challenged with a judicial review, “throughout the process the DWP won on all points.”

That’s simply not true. That’s telling lies.

Journalist John Pring wrote on Disability News Service website: “The three judges unanimously overturned an earlier ruling by the high court and found that her (McVey) decision to close the fund was unlawful, and that she had breached the Equality Act’s public sector equality duty.

Lies, damn lies, and statistics

“She was heavily criticised by the judges, with one saying there was no evidence that she had “directed her mind to the need to advance equality of opportunity”.

lies

Esther McVey, work and pensions secretary.

As far as I am concerned, that means the DWP did not win on all points.

What actually happened was that, in 2012 when Esther McVey was disabilities minister, she closed the Independent Living Fund. The decision was challenged and, finally, three appeal court judges firmly rejected her decision.

Full details can be found here.

Ms McVey’s appointment to work and pensions secretary has been met with criticism.

Linda Burnip, co-founder of Disabled People Against Cuts, spoke out. She said: “People see this as a deliberately provocative appointment.”

She added that they feel it will lead to further abuse and denial of rights for disabled people.

John McArdle, co-founder of Black Triangle, said: “We can now expect an intensification of the government’s campaign of violations against the fundamental human rights of the UK’s disabled population.”

Sue Bott, deputy chief executive of Disability Rights UK, was more cautious. She said McVey had “a very full in-tray when it comes to disabled people.

“We hope she’ll work with us to come up with practical responses to some of the critical issues around disabled people’s ability to live as full and equal citizens in the UK.”

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Affiliate disclaimer: This affiliate disclosure details the affiliate relationships of MS, Health & Disability at 50shadesofsun.com with other companies and products. Read more.

* * * * *

50shadesofsun.com is the personal website of Ian Franks, a freelance medical writer and editor for various health information sites. He enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor in the print media. He gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. Ian received a diagnosis of MS in 2002 and now lives in the south of Spain. He uses a wheelchair and advocates on mobility and accessibility issues.

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Note: Health-related information available on 50shadesofsun website is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. I am not a doctor and cannot and do not give you medical advice. You should seek prompt medical care for any specific health issues and consult a doctor before starting a new diet or exercise programme. Any opinions expressed are purely my own unless otherwise stated.

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Nothing new promised by latest work and pensions secretary

The cabinet table seat of the work and pensions secretary must be fitted with an eject mechanism. Yet again, it has a new incumbent.

Indeed, in the 20 months since the sudden resignation of Iain Duncan Smith, the role has changed hands four times. And throughout that time, benefits for disabled people, including those with MS, have been under attack.

secretary

Esther McVey, new work and pensions secretary.

UK prime minister Theresa May on Monday appointed Esther McVey as the latest to run the Department for Work and Pensions. For her, it means a return to the department where she was minister for disabled people from 2012 to 2013.

So, what can we expect from the new head of the government department responsible for disability benefits? Sorry, but I can only see more of the same.

Just look back at what she did while she was in that more junior ministerial role. Freelance journalist and blogger Paul Lewis (@paullewismoney) tweeted: “As Minister for Disabled People she (Esther McVey) said 300,000 people would lose their benefits under her changes and she cut the walking test to get PIP from less than 50m to less than 20m.”

Secretary dedicated to cutting benefits

Wonderful! The new secretary of state is another Conservative politician dedicated to cutting benefits paid to disabled people. We need another change – this time a change for the better.

There have been many, many reactions to news of Ms McVey’s appointment and I see little point in repeating them all here. Instead, if you are interested in more information and comment, I would recommend taking a look at Vox Political Online.

This is an excellent blog written by left-wing journalist Mike Siver. His contribution to this story is “Esther McVey is now Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. Expect many, many deaths”.

The headline may seem to be incendiary but is, nevertheless, a timely warning. After all, less than two months ago I brought you news that spending cuts had already led to 120,000 deaths. Needless deaths.

Bearing that in mind, Sivier’s headline looks quite reasonable.

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Affiliate disclaimer: This affiliate disclosure details the affiliate relationships of MS, Health & Disability at 50shadesofsun.com with other companies and products. Read more.

* * * * *

50shadesofsun.com is the personal website of Ian Franks, a freelance medical writer and editor for various health information sites. He enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor in the print media. He gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. Ian received a diagnosis of MS in 2002 and now lives in the south of Spain. He uses a wheelchair and advocates on mobility and accessibility issues.

* * * * *

Note: Health-related information available on 50shadesofsun website is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. I am not a doctor and cannot and do not give you medical advice. You should seek prompt medical care for any specific health issues and consult a doctor before starting a new diet or exercise programme. Any opinions expressed are purely my own unless otherwise stated.

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