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Charities hail decision as judge rules disability payments delay unlawful

By John Aston

Charities have welcomed a High Court judge's ruling that the Government took an "unlawful" amount of time to pay benefits to two disabled people.

Mrs Justice Patterson said the claimants were not to be treated as test cases, but groups working with the vulnerable say others may have been treated unlawfully.

The claimants, Ms C and Mr W, had asked the judge to declare that Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith breached his duties to provide them with personal independence payments in a reasonable time. In Ms C's, case the delay was 13 months, while for Mr W it was 10 months.

Mrs Justice Patterson was told some people had to turn to loan sharks without their benefits. She declared that the delays were "not only unacceptable, but unlawful" and added: "There can be no public interest in delays."

Ms C, who has ME and suffers from depression and other health problems, said: "I was completely isolated during the nine months."

Food bank provider the Trussell Trust said delays were one of the main reasons for people seeking help. It added: "Many problems are related to appeals against decisions that disabled people are fit for work. In these circumstances, people wait months with payments suspended while the review grinds through its process."

Belfast Telegraph


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