Legal research by the International Disability Law Clinic at the School of Law, Leeds University 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 Tribunal venues is unlawful.
Key messages from the report (attached) 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 (Appendix A below) 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.