Disabled scholar wins proper to problem DWP over common credit score ‘discrimination’ – Incapacity Information Service
A disabled student has the right to question the ministers’ efforts to prevent him and thousands of others in his situation from claiming general coursework while studying.
Flinn Kays argues that many disabled students should be entitled to unemployment benefits during their studies because they cannot get a job to the same extent as non-disabled students.
However, Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) regulations prevent disabled students from undergoing a Work Ability Assessment (WCA), which means they cannot get a Universal Credit (UC).
When the universal credit was approved by parliament, it was agreed that disabled students who could prove their limited ability to work – and who have already received care allowance (AA), disability allowance (DLA) or personal independence allowance (PIP) – should be exempted from the rule, that it cannot be used by full-time students.
In spite of these regulations, however, it finally became clear that after the introduction of UC in 2013, DWP staff rejected the claims of disabled students and only allowed disabled students who had already been identified as having “limited work ability” to be granted leave.
The policy is believed to have affected thousands of disabled students.
Last year, Labor and Pensions Minister Therese Coffey finally admitted the policy was illegal and two disabled students were allowed to undergo a WCA to determine their impaired work ability after the Supreme Court concluded that DWP passed the relevant law had misunderstood.
But after the ruling, Coffey introduced new regulations that changed the law so that other disabled students who receive AA, DLA, or PIP and apply for UC will not be referred to a WCA and their applications will therefore be denied.
She made the rule change on August 3, the first working day after telling the court that she would not defend the judicial review.
Coffey also gave Parliament just one day instead of the usual three weeks to discuss the new regulations before they came into force and failed to comply with her legal obligation to hear the advisors of the DWP, the social security committee.
She blamed the “capacity constraints” caused by the pandemic.
Kays, a freshman psychology student at Bath Spa University, has now received permission to seek a judicial review of the new regulations.
He argues that Coffey wrongly failed to consult the regulations; that they are discriminatory under the European Convention on Human Rights; that they are irrational; and that they violate government equality in the public sector.
He gets the increased rate of both the mobility and daily living components of PIP, but he has to use that money to cover his general living expenses.
He believes he should be eligible for a universal loan of around £ 900 per month, but his application was denied and he was not asked to attend a WCA.
He said, “Because of my disability, I cannot supplement my income to the same extent as a non-disabled student.
“I think it is illegal and also discriminatory that I am prevented from using universal credits.”
Lucy Cadd, his attorney at Leigh Day Law Firm, said, “The government says it has always been its political intent to prevent disabled students from obtaining universal credit.
“However, all parliamentary debates that took place in 2011-2012 shortly before the introduction of the benefit clearly show that the position should be maintained within the framework of the legacy benefits, namely that disabled students are completely safe.” Can make use of services.
“A non-disabled student is already twice as likely to graduate to a degree than a disabled student – this gap will only widen if disabled students cannot supplement their income with UC.”
Disabled Students UK (DSUK), a grassroots organization run and controlled by disabled students, welcomed the approval of the legal action.
Amelia McLoughlan, DSUK’s network director, said disabled students have been concerned about the problem since 2017.
She said, “As Flinn noted, disabled students are often unable to supplement their income to the same extent as non-disabled students.”
She said DWP’s policy seemed to point to an “equivalence between the ability to learn and the ability to work of disabled students”, an “oversimplification” that was “incredibly worrying”.
She said: “The directive does not take into account the complexities of disabilities, the already difficult and administrative environment faced by disabled students in higher education (as described in the Arriving at Thriving report) or the significant barriers that disabled people face . “
She added: “The rejection of universal loan applications simply because the applicant is in full-time education has a significant financial impact on the individual.
“We know from our members and disabled students we encounter that many people with disabilities simply cannot afford to study and that many are under considerable financial burdens.
“Therefore, we would welcome an investigation into whether this has influenced the decision-making of disabled students when applying for university admission, or whether this has resulted in disabled students having poor academic and / or health outcomes due to financial burdens.
“This is a hot topic as our latest survey shows that 54 percent of disabled students report that they are more stressed, afraid or worried because of the financial pressures during the pandemic.
“This just goes to show the importance of the Secretary of State and the government as a whole to consult with disabled people, including disabled students, about policies that directly affect their lives.
“Policies like this culminate in regulation that creates inequality of opportunity and prevents the government from closing the gap in completion performance between disabled and non-disabled people, which is currently 16.2 percentage points, according to the ONS.”
Ken Butler, Disability Rights UK’s welfare and policy advisor who has been advocating this issue for four years, said, “The granting of this new judicial review is great news and hopefully it will be as successful as the original.
“According to DR UK, both the Equal Opportunities and Human Rights Commission and the Labor and Pensions Committee previously recommended to MPs that receiving PIP or DLA – for employment and support benefits and housing benefits – should mean that disabled students should be treated in this way will like have limited work ability for UC purposes.
“Student funding for disabled students is inadequate, as evidenced by the fact that many would qualify for the UC needs test if only they were eligible.
“In addition, student finance is often not available during the entire summer vacation.
“The rapid introduction of new regulations to block UC privileges over the past year casts doubt on the government’s commitment to ensuring that people with disabilities have access to education.
“It also casts doubt on the government’s commitment to increasing the number of employed people with disabilities.”
A DWP spokesman said: “We cannot comment on an ongoing legal case.
“Students, including those with a disability or a state of health, can receive support for their higher education through various loans and grants that are financed through the student support system.”
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