Disabled payment delay 'unlawful'

Vulnerable "have been forced to turn to loan sharks and food banks" due to delays

Disability ruling

The government took an "unlawful and unacceptably long time" to pay new welfare benefits to two unnamed disabled people, a High Court judge has ruled.

The judge was told at a recent hearing that vulnerable people have been forced to turn to loan sharks and food banks because of the delays in providing them with personal independence payments (Pips).

The payments are replacing the disability living allowance (DLA) in sweeping government reforms of the benefits system. They are designed to help disabled adults meet the extra costs caused by disability.

Two claimants, Ms C and Mr W, asked Mrs Justice Patterson to declare that - because of the magnitude of the delay - Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith breached his common law and human rights duties to make payments within a reasonable time.

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

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

In Mr W's case the delay was some 10 months, from February 3 2014 until December 2014.

The judge said both cases had called for "expeditious consideration" as they both suffered significant disabilities.

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

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