Disability discrimination in benefits

There has been a huge problem of disability discrimination by the DWP, including:

  • Sending forms and letters to people with learning disability and / visual impairment and then stopping their benefits if they can’t respond.
  • Telling claimants they must travel to face-to-face “consultations” that they are unable to get to.
  • Imposing sanctions by setting up claimants with compulsory work activities that they are unable to achieve.

It’s usually relatively straightforward to get benefits restored in these situations and the situation has improved in recent times.  Kester Disability Rights has supported a number of claimants challenge such discrimination by supporting them as disabled litigants in person in the county court because legal aid is now virtually impossible to get.  Please see tackling DWP disability discrimination guide for more information.  There is also further information in FAQs.

These cases can be brought in the County Court.  Astonishingly the DWP effectively tried to argue it was immune to actions brought against it under the Equality Act, but of course lost: Kurtagja v DWP summary ; Kurtagja v DWP full judgement

You may wish to use the template letter linked below if you are summonsed for a "consultation" that you are unable to attend.  If this happens there is a number on the letter you can use to ask for a home visit or paper assessment, but sometimes there is a refusal to modify demand for your attendance at an assessment centre.  You may get told, for example, that you must produce a doctor's letter saying why you can't attend.  However, as you'll see from this letter, the DWP, and any agents acting on its behalf, have an anticipatory duty to make reasonable adjustments.  This means if they know you are severely disabled from your claims history, and can see you would struggle to deal with a face-to-face consultation, but summons you to one anyway under threat of loss of benefit, they are breaching the Equality Act 2010.

Letter-to-DWP-agents-for-severely-disabled-claimants-called-for-assessments-they-cannot-reach.pdf

And here is a tackling DWP discrimination guide.