A legal challenge brought against the government’s disability benefit reforms failed today after a judge ruled that strict new eligibility criteria is “legal”.

Welfare reforms mean Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is being replaced by Personal Independence Payments (PIP) for sick and disabled people.

A toughening of the eligibility criteria for the new benefit includes a requirement that disabled people must be able to demonstrate that they can walk no more than 20 metres comfortably, if they are to qualify (be eligible) for the higher rate of the PIP Mobility component.

Solicitors argued that the decision to alter the eligibility criteria was made without fair consultation. They also argued that the government was determined to push through the change regardless of the results of the consultation, or the very real and significant concerns raised by charities, disabled people and medical experts.

Although the court was highly critical of the government’s decision process and acknowledged the potential impact on disabled people, the judge ruled that the new qualifying criteria for PIP is “legal”.

Claire Nurden, co-chair of the Disability Benefits Consortium and Senior Policy & Campaigns Officer at the MS Society, said:

“Today’s result is bitterly disappointing. The case was a real opportunity to challenge the government about a decision that’ll have a devastating impact on more than half a million disabled people.

“PIP is intended to help those most in need but it is exactly these people that are set to lose. We would strongly support an appeal of this decision.”

Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) figures suggest that stricter eligibility conditions are resulting in 46% of new PIP claims being unsuccessful (figure includes withdrawn claims).

Of those disabled people who were successful in their claim for PIP up to February 2014:

  • 10% received the Mobility component only
  • 68% received both the Mobility and ‘Daily Living’ components.
  • 22% received the Daily Living Award only.
  • Close to 20,000 claimants received the higher rate (enhanced) version of the PIP Mobility component, compared to around 10,000 who were awarded the lower (standard) rate.
  • 29% were assessed under Special Rules for Terminally Ill people.
  • 31% were assessed as having a malignant disease as their main disability, and 21% as mental illness


  1. Well, that's me out. I shall definitely not get the Mobility Component of PIP. At present, I qualify for the Lower Rate of the Mobility Component of DLA, but I can kiss goodbye to that! That's yet another fall in my weekly income. The Govt. are just doing this to save money. PIP isn't about 'helping those most in need' @ all. Labour have refused point-blank to pledge to abolish PIP, so there will be no change there. I have all sorts of mobility problems, but none of them count!

  2. The title does not do this article justice as it gives the impression that the judge says all disability benefit reform is legal and that is not the case

    • Never qualified for DLA anyway as apparently I'm 'not disabled enough?' As we all know Leon, anyone with MH issues ''IS'' openly discriminated against, I will have to update my blog with the evidence I received from DWP stating as such..

  3. This is disgraceful . I hope this government are held accountable if these reforms are implemented .

  4. Well if the government implement something to say it is illegal would bring the government down, and this was going to lose from the outset.

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