Government defeated in disability benefit appeal, credit to Harrow Law Centre!

PamA local councillor Pamela Fitzpatrick (photo), Director Harrow Law Centre and Labour parliamentary candidate for Harrow East, is delighted that a key policy of the Government’s Hostile Environment policy has been declared unlawful in a ruling handed down by the Court of Appeal today.
In April 2013 the Coalition Government introduced a host of regulations as part of its hostile environment policy.  One such amendment the ‘past presence’ test meant that a person with a disability would have to wait two years before being eligible for certain disability benefits notwithstanding that they had genuine links to the UK.
Harrow Law Centre which has long argued that these rules were discriminatory and in breach of EU law, challenged this restriction and the Court of Appeal agreed the Government had acted unlawfully in denying disability benefit.
The law centre  client, 67 years old German national and severely disabled, came to live with her daughter, a British Citizen, in the UK when she was no longer able to care for herself.  She later claimed Attendance Allowance, but it was refused under the new legislation.  As a result, her daughter was also excluded from claiming carers allowance despite being a British Citizen.
This  case was joined with another involving an Irish national represented by Child Poverty Action Group where the British Citizen mother, of a disabled child was refused disability living allowance for her child under the same rule.
In its judgement handed down today the Court of Appeal ruled that both claimants had a genuine and sufficient connection to the UK when they claimed disability benefits and that the approach taken was flawed and unduly inflexible because it failed to take account of all the particular, personal circumstances and motives of the claimants, which in the round, proved the required sufficient link.
Commenting on today’s judgement Solicitor David Martinez of Harrow Law Centre said:
“This judgment makes clear that once again the government’s interpretation of European Union law has been far too restrictive.  This time those suffering from severe disabilities were denied the assistance they so clearly required and were entitled to.  This was despite the strong family links to the UK and the clear intention to settle here that both clients had.  At least for those disabled EU citizens and disabled UK citizens returning or relocating from the EU the decision-making process for those who have carers strongly connected to the UK will now be done within a fundamentally more benign environment.”