Thousands of disabled people will be given higher benefits after winning a legal victory over the Tory government, The Mirror reports.
Ministers have been forced to rewrite Personal Independence Payment (PIP) rules following the defeat at a top-level court and people will now get £70 to £90 a week extra backdated to the day of the Upper Tribunal, which includes a High Court judge on its panel, in March.
The government believes around 10,000 people will benefit by 2022.
The shake-up axes rules which said people can carry out tasks unsupervised if it’s “unlikely” they’ll come to harm. Epileptic people warned the old rule left them vulnerable, because even though attacks are unlikely, they’re catastrophic when they happen.
So judges ruled the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) should base decisions on how serious harm is, not how likely.
Epilepsy Action chief executive Philip Lee said he was “delighted”, adding: “Many people with the condition could have a seizure at any time, often without warning.
Disabilities minister Penny Mordaunt said: “These updates will help us continue to ensure people with the highest costs associated with their disability or health condition are receiving the most support.”
But the minister has risked fury by describing the tribunal as a “binding” legal judgement and deciding to follow it.
When two other Upper Tribunals said 165,000 PIP claimants should get higher benefits, just nine months ago, she defied the judgement.
A DWP source said the cases were different, because the previous tribunals – which would have cost £3.7bn by 2022 – tried to widen PIP beyond its “original policy intent”.
“For this recent judgment, we accept the policy intent was less clear,” the source said.
But Phil Reynolds of Parkinson’s UK said: “This leaves disabled people in a really confused position about what the Government might do next and what the change means for them.
“Instead of chipping away at the issue, the Government needs to undertake a thorough review of the entire assessment to ensure people get the support they need first time.”
Laura Wetherly of the MS Society added: “Any change to make assessments more accurate is a positive move, but the PIP rules are still riddled with problems.
“Realistically, the whole system needs to be reviewed.”
Scope added the “flawed assessment process” should be reviewed.
Labour Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Debbie Abrahams said: “While we welcome any increase in support for those who need PIP, this is a drop in the ocean of the funding that the courts have ruled should rightfully go to recipients.
“The government must immediately act on all of the court judgements on PIP.”
Other changes today ensure people will rack up ‘points’ to qualify for the benefit under both categories of “communicating verbally” and “engaging with others”, even if they appear similar.