Report published on Government policy on PIP assessments and Social Security and Child Support Tribunal hearings
The International Disability Law Clinic has published a report on the Government policy not to install audio recording equipment for all Personal Independence Payment assessments and tribunals.
The clinic’s report, featured by today’s Disability News Service, concludes that the Government’s policy of not installing audio recording equipment for all Personal Independence Payment (PIP) assessments and at all Social Security and Child Support (SSCS) Tribunal venues is unlawful.
The clinic comprises undergraduate and postgraduate researchers working with the School’s academic team and works in collaboration with the School’s Disability Law Hub and the University’s Centre for Disability Studies.
In 2018/2019, the clinic undertook research concerning the legal obligation on states to provide an accessible record of Social Security Tribunal hearings and assessment meetings that applicants for certain disability related benefits attended.
The resulting report focuses on the obligations that arise from Human Rights and Equality Law. Key messages include:
- The policy has a disparate and an adverse impact on disabled people, and lacks objective justification;
- The Department of Work and Pensions’ (DWP) delay in honouring its commitment to put in place recording equipment at every mandatory medical assessment for a PIP, constitutes a breach of the Government’s obligations under the Equality Act 2010, the European Convention on Human Rights Article 6 and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Article 13 – as well as its public law obligations;
- The Ministry of Justice’s (MoJ) failure to assess (or indeed to acknowledge) the harm that results from the absence of recording equipment at SSCS Tribunal hearings – constitutes a breach of the Government’s obligations under the Equality Act 2010, the European Convention on Human Rights Article 6 and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Article 13 – as well as its public law obligations;
- These failures by the DWP and the MoJ are causing significant and predictable harm to disabled people and would appear to be actionable by way of a judicial review in the High Court;
- The research underpinning this report includes a Freedom of Information Request to the Ministry of Justice, which reveals that:
- There are no SSCS Tribunal venues in London with recording equipment;
- Only 91 (out of 161) hearing centres in England, Wales and Scotland have recording equipment;
- The cost of installing recording equipment is about £1,000 per venue and that the annual maintenance cost is approximately £15.00.
The report is written by the project’s student research team: Ashleigh James, Megan Carden, Kurtis Kenningley, Stacey Hallett, Damarie Kalonzo and Tuuli-Julia Nurminen. Support and guidance was provided by Professor Luke Clements and Professor Oliver Lewis, with special thanks to Marie Fitzgerald.
For further information contact Professor Luke Clements at L.J.Clements@leeds.ac.uk.