2015 02 Welfare Benefits

Sunday 1 March 2015

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In HB Bulletin G2/2015, published ton on 17 February 2015, the DWP says that the High Court has dismissed the challenge to the bedroom tax by a woman whose home has been adapted under a Sanctuary Scheme. The judgment in R (A) v the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2015] EWHC 159 (Admin) is not yet available on the BAILII website.

Figures published on 28 January 2015 show the average time a claimant waits for their assessment on a new claim for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) has reduced from 30 weeks in June 2014 to 14 weeks. The DWP's PIP ad hoc statistics are available from gov.uk – click here.However, according to Irwin Mitchell’s website, permission has been granted “for the legal challenge in relation to Personal Independence Payments (PIP), after hearing numerous first-hand accounts from those who have faced serious financial hardship after experiencing delays in receiving the funds.” Click here.

In KH v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (DLA) (DLA, AA: personal care: other) [2015] UKUT 8 (AAC) (Judge Hemingway) the claimant had severe agoraphobia and in 2008, said she had not ventured out of doors for 23 years. She was awarded the lower rate mobility component and the middle rate care component from February 2008 for five years. However when she applied to renew the claim in 2013 a decision was made that she was not entitled to either component. A First-tier Tribunal upheld the decision. The Upper Tribunal held that the claimant could not qualify for the lower rate mobility component under s.73(1)(d), (8) of the Social Security Contributions Act 1992 as she was unable to take advantage of the faculty of walking out of doors even with guidance and supervision: CDLA/2364/1995 and Mongan v Department of Social Development[2005] NICA 16 considered. The Upper Tribunal added that the First-tier Tribunal was not bound by the decision made on the 2008 claim and it did not have to be satisfied that there had been an improvement in the appellant’s condition for it to reach an outcome differing from the original award. Click here for the transcript.

CS v Chelmsford Borough Council (Capital : Ownership/Possession) [2014] UKUT 518 (AAC) (Judge Markus QC) holds that capital subject to a restraint order made under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 has a nil value. The claimant was refused Council Tax Benefit because his capital was in excess of £16,000. The capital was held in bank accounts and a property in Spain which was subject to a restraint order made under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. The order prohibited the claimant from disposing of or dealing with any of the assets, although he was allowed to withdraw funds for ordinary living expenses with the agreement of the prosecutor: CJSA/1556/2007 considered. In the alternative, the claimant’s assets no longer belonged to him: Re M (restraint order) [1992] 1 All ER 537 considred. Either way, his capital resources for Council Tax Benefits purposes did not exceed £16,000. Click here for the transcript.

GF v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (ESA) (Employment and support allowance: other) [2014] UKUT 547 (AAC) (Charles J, Judge Lane and Knowles QC) considered the value of an Health Care Professional (HCP) report carried out by a physiotherapist where mental health problems are in issue when carrying out a work capability assessment in an Employment and Support Allowance appeal. The Three-Judge Panel concluded that that the assessment of the probative value of an HCP physiotherapist’s report, like other reports and evidence, is a matter for the decision maker and, in turn, for a tribunal considering an appeal, and that, as a result, the comments by Judge Mark in CE/3883/2012 that it had no probative value were wrong and should not be followed. The Upper Tribunal gave the following general guidance on the weight to be given to medical reports in the assessment of mental health issues in ESA appeals:

“In assessing the weight to be given to any report addressing the functional impact of any medical condition on a claimant, a First-tier Tribunal should consider (a) the level of the author’s expertise (for example, an HCP or a consultant psychiatrist) and (b) the knowledge of the claimant possessed by the author (for example, knowledge gained from a one-off assessment or that gained as a treating clinician). Additionally the date of the evidence, its comprehensiveness, and its relevance to the issues the tribunal has to determine are also key matters for the tribunal to consider. Importantly the tribunal should explain its reasoning for attaching weight to one type or piece of evidence rather than to another.” (paragraph 38) Click here for the transcript.

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