Welfare challenges get support

13 March 2015

PA

A SMALL anti-poverty charity is supporting two legal challenges to the Government's welfare reforms.

Zacchaeus 2000 Trust, known as Z2K, was founded by the Revd Paul Nicolson, a retired priest and long-standing campaigner.

It is backing two separate judicial reviews: one of the new disability and incapacity benefit Personal Independence Payment (PIP); and another of how a coun-cil is distributing discretionary housing payments (DHPs) to people hit by the so-called "bedroom tax".

The charity has intervened in both cases to offer evidence from its own experience of helping people to negotiate the system.

Last year, it provided a written statement in a case against Sandwell Council, in the West Midlands. An unnamed disabled couple are challenging the council's decision to count their disability benefits as income when deciding if they qualify for a DHP. Their housing benefit has been cut because they are deemed to have a spare bedroom, and they cannot afford their rent without a DHP.

A spokesman for Z2K, Sam Ashton, said on Monday that it decided to contribute to the Sandwell case because of its experience in helping disabled Londoners apply for a DHP, and appealing against councils who refused to provide them. A decision on the case is expected this month.

Z2K is also backing a legal challenge against the Department for Work and Pensions over the delays to a benefit introduced in 2013, the PIP. "People have been waiting over a year after applying to find out whether they will get the benefit," Mr Ashton said.

The judicial review is in the name of two disabled claimants, and Z2K is providing written evidence to support their claim.

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