On 21st December 2017, the High Court ruled that changes to Personal Independence Payment (PIP) are ‘blatantly discriminatory’ against people with mental health problems and ‘cannot be objectively justified’.
Last February, the UK Government introduced regulations that limited the amount of support that people who struggle to make journeys because of psychological distress could get through PIP.
At the time the Government said that people in this group had fewer support needs than other disabled people who struggle to make journeys. The High Court ruling found that this amounted to no more than subjective opinion with no evidence to back up such a claim.
If this ruling stands then more than 160,000 people with mental health problems will be entitled to additional support from PIP.
The case was brought by the Public Law Project on behalf of their client RF. RF’s claim was supported by evidence from the National Autistic Society, Disability Rights UK, Revolving Doors and Inclusion London. Mind intervened in the case alongside the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind, the mental health charity said:
“This ruling is a significant victory for people with mental health problems. It acknowledges that the regulations discriminated against people with mental health problems and upholds the principle that PIP should look at the impact your condition has on your life, not what kind of condition you have.
“If the ruling is allowed to stand then more than 160,000 people with mental health problems will be able to access the support they should have been entitled to all along. This support is what can make the difference between whether people can get to work or appointments, see friends and family and live independent lives. We are proud to have supported Public Law Project and their client RF to get these regulations overturned.
“The judgment is clear that the Government has no evidence for its claim that people who experience psychological distress need less support than other disabled people. The Government’s stance on this issue is symptomatic of all the deep concerns that we have about the benefits system as a whole – it just does not understand mental health problems and the impact they can have on a person’s life.
“The Government now needs to accept the judgment it has been given and start making sure that people who struggle to plan and make a journey because of their mental health will get the financial support they are entitled to.”
Danielle Hamm, Associate Director of Campaigns and Policy at Rethink Mental Illness, said:
“Today’s decision offers renewed hope to tens of thousands of people affected by mental illness and offers the Government another chance to put mental health on an equal footing in the welfare system.
“The High Court’s overturning of regulations that were unjust and discriminatory will help those with severe mental illness restore some sense of independence. It is vital that the Government listens to and accepts this verdict, and to the people who lost out financially as a result of the initial regulations, and delivers parity for mental health within the welfare system.”