DWP sneaks out news of humiliating climbdown on mental health PIP payments

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DWP Secretary Esther McVey

The government has compounded its humiliation over a huge climb-down concerning PIP (Personal Independence Payments) to people with mental health issues – by trying to hide it.

Just a week or so into her new job as DWP (Dept of Work and Pensions) Secretary, Esther McVey had to announce that she would be ending the government’s attempts to overturn a court decision that denying or reducing PIP to those who suffer ‘severe psychological distress’ when travelling alone is ‘blatantly discriminatory’.

But she did so in a written statement issued after parliament had finished sitting for the week.

The announcement is a victory for campaigners and Labour but has been ignored by much of the media.

The government says the change will cost almost £4 billion over five years and will benefit around 150,000 more people.

The climb-down is to be welcomed, but the way in which it was announced led Shadow DWP Secretary Debbie Abrahams to condemn the government’s ‘duplicity and disarray’. The government had already changed the law after losing an earlier court battle, to avoid having to carry out that judgment, but has now capitulated to the second one.

Ms McVey’s decision does nothing to absolve her of her responsibility, during her first term with the DWP, for a decision to reduce the distance disabled people have to be capable of walking before they lose their mobility allowance – which cost vast numbers of disabled people the vehicles that prevented them becoming virtually or fully housebound.

Nor does it do anything to lessen her guilt for working with Iain Duncan Smith to implement changes with the goal of taking PIP away from half a million disabled people whether they needed it or not.


How typical of the combined incompetence, cowardice and callousness of this government that it first tried to legitimise its ‘blatant discrimination’ against people with severe mental health challenges – and then tried to obscure the news when it abandoned its legal fight to avoid doing the right thing.

Congratulations to the people who will benefit and to those who campaigned for them – and shame yet again on the venal, heartless and incompetent Tories.

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  1. Hey Skwarkbox, Namaste 🙂

    At last a little good news (delivered no doubt with embarrassment through clenched teeth by EM) for 150,000 people previously discriminated against whose entitlement for full awards of PIP is reinstated thus enabling them to put degrees of ‘independence’ back into their restricted lives.

    I don’t imagine there will be a flood of compassionate regard for the vulnerable in society by this government, but any redress of vile policies that would otherwise constrict, restrict and withhold entitlement for social security payments has to be welcome.

    Next stop for EM would be to ensure that Work Capability Assessments and Medical Assessments for PIP are wholly inclusive: that they assess correctly for both Physical and Mental disability and actually accept the evidence submitted by highly qualified Mental Health experts who understand the significance of mental health disorder as a restriction for work and as a condition that places great limitation on people’s lives – both in terms of their Daily Living needs and their personal Mobility needs. Following that, EM can set about reviewing the period of Awards granted for PIP claimants: especially those with metal health disorders whose diagnosis is long-term and/or permanent. If correctly assessed there is no reason why such people cannot be given 10 year awards or even awards that have no fixed term. Why put someone through untold stress and strain of repeating an application for benefit if their GP or Specialist recommends otherwise?

    DWP are allegedly an Exemplar Employer: staff should be able to expect the highest standard from managers in all areas governing their employment. This includes Mental Health awareness, whereby the DWP are bound by the content of Lord Stevenson Report on Mental Health in the Workplace – an independent review of mental health and employers by Lord Dennis Stevenson and Paul Farmer. (1) One would very much like to see the ‘spirit’ of such an inclusive approach being extended to social security claimants as well: after-all whilst receiving social security payments a customer falls under the duty of care of DWP (as much the State) to ensure their personal health and safety is not exacerbated or put in danger by decisions DWP managers make. If Government policy is designed to be discriminatory, non-inclusive, brutal and potentially life-threatening how exactly are DWP then able to extend a duty of care with any degree of sincerity, sensitivity, or sensibility? A blanket approach to sanctioning is very destructive, and better methods are needed.

    EM has an awful lot of hard work to do to restore public confidence in an organisation that is used over and over as a political tool rather than being what it is – an administration service for the provision of Social Security to vulnerable people staffed by human beings with hearts asked to make decisions that have potential to deeply impact lives both positively and negatively. A more holistic approach to Social Provision in the UK is long overdue.

    Debbie Abrahams – make a pledge now to dramatically change the way in which Social Security is managed in the UK so that there will be no further loss of life through wilful neglect or deliberate violation of people’s right to life.

    Good news Skwarkbox to end the day with. My fingers are crossed more good news will follow this.

    Namaste 🙂


    (1) – https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/thriving-at-work-a-review-of-mental-health-and-employers

  2. Welcome news, but still no government U-turn on the ESA WRAG cuts and I won’t be satisfied until there is one. These life-threatening cuts are a paramount concern and one of the reasons why I campaign on Twitter and have written the DWP ministers, the House of Commons Speaker, Shadow Secretary Debbie Abrahams, and the Work and Pensions Committee on this matter. We may have to take the DWP to court.

    The DWP’s disregard for the subsistence needs of new ESA WRAG claimants is shocking. When sick and disabled people don’t have enough money to live on, let’s not pretend that by focusing solely on getting them into work but leaving them still choosing whether to heat or eat, we are actually tackling the disability employment gap.

  3. oh dear will it change nah you still have to get the dm to pass it through while the highly trained hcp keep on ignoring the rules

    1. Agreed, but then you include this Judgment and the MM one in your claim and appeal should you need too, by making the DWP aware that you are aware of it very early on any appeal Judge will not be happy with the DWP’s attempt to waste further public money on a wasteful appeal especially as they have already spoken out about this


  4. Sneaked in under the news radar now…..But when it comes to the next round of blatant discrimination on (And victimisation of) another sector of society’s vulnerable by mcvile and her dwp kapos they’ll be pointing to this and saying they’re really the good guys.

    God stiffen the bloody lot of them.

  5. Does this mean that I am entitled to higher award on pip for
    difficulties traveling alone or monitoring a health condition?
    Thanks for your reply

    1. Can’t say for certain but you may well be. Contact the DWP or an adviser

  6. It’s ‘good’ news yes, but the way this inept, incompetent, vicious and dangerous Tory Government goes about rectifying their bad and mean decisions does not indicate any good will emanating from them but merely indicates that whatever they do, they do to remain in power and cushy jobs! How venal is that for those who have been brought up to think that only they can run a country, that only they are born to rule over the rest of us! What a bunch of mealy mouthed shites!

  7. Are you aware the EU citizens like myself now habe to,produce passport, home office papaers and birthcertificate to be able to change from disability all. To PIP. They have just send me the letter. I have no passport and it would cost around £1500 to,replace my dutch passport, which of course as a disabled person with ptsd aswel as physical illnesses, i do not have. Next they will move me to universal credit, demanding the same, leaving me unable to claim and destitute, himeless and stateless. There must be many like me who are elderly now, with no papers and no money to get them either.
    I do not know where to,turn next. Getting a passport will,take aboutnsix months. The limit on claiming diPIP is six months.

  8. my partner suffers from epilepsy and we had tribunal last week and won.it was terrible the judge was amazing but the doctor was the worst paying they only awarded my partner 4 points for mobility previously awarded 12 points in assessment. .she justified it by saying some neurologists let you drive while having epilepsy ha ha I said really well hers doesn’t.she was awarded the least which is 8 points for care and 4 points mobility because she suffers depression due to her epilepsy.stating she needs prompting going out due to distress etc.what I can’t understand is she can’t go out due to having a seizure. .

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