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Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey backs down over disability payments

The Work and Pensions secretary has announced a major U-turn over disability payments.

Esther McVey, who has held the post for less than a fortnight, said that the government would not appeal a High Court decision overruling government policy on Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

In 2016, the court overturned a policy to limit payments to those who could not travel independently due to psychological distress.

People falling into this category would not be entitled to the higher rates of PIP afforded to those with physical disabilities.

In a statement released yesterday, Ms McVey said that the department would not launch a legal challenge to the ruling. Payments to individual claimants will be backdated.

‘Although I and my department accept the High Court’s judgement, we do not agree with some of the detail contained therein’ she said.

‘Our intention has always been to deliver the policy intent of the original regulations, as approved by Parliament, and to provide the best support to claimants with mental health conditions.’

The government had previously said that the additional payments would cost £3.7 billion by 2022, and was expected to fight the ruling.

Disability campaigners heralded the climbdown as a victory.

Mark Atkinson, Chief Executive of disability charity Scope said: ‘It’s absolutely right that the Government has accepted the High Court’s ruling over the “discriminatory” changes made to PIP last year. This announcement is a victory for the many disabled people who have been unable to access support they are entitled to.’

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