Betty lives with her son, Finlay, in a rental property. Betty has several medical conditions including anxiety, depression, panic attacks and musculoskeletal issues which affect her feet, hips, lower back, and hands and severely restrict her mobility.

Betty was previously in receipt of the day rate of care and higher mobility components of Disability Living Allowance (DLA). Finlay provided care for Betty, and consequently claimed benefits as her carer. 

As part of the Government's welfare reforms, Betty was migrated from DLA to Personal Independence Payment (PIP) but, following an assessment, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) concluded that Betty did not qualify for PIP and so her DLA was stopped.

This meant that Finlay no longer qualified as a carer and so as part of his Universal Credit conditions he was now required to look for, and be available for, full time work. This was in addition to looking after Betty and having his benefit payments reduced. Furthermore, because Betty's DLA had now stopped, she was subject to a 'non-dependent' deduction from her housing benefit and council tax support, because it was expected that Finlay should now contribute.

Betty approached the law centre for support to challenge the DWP's decision. When she first came into see us, she was in considerable distress and her and Finlay were experiencing financial hardship as a result of their sudden and unexpected change in circumstances. She was not able to walk far and had to be accompanied outside due to the level of anxiety she experienced. She also needed prompting with several daily activities, such as cooking, eating, washing, dressing, and engaging with people – as well as needing help to undertake some activities.

We believed she should have qualified for the enhanced rates of both the daily living and mobility components of PIP, which was more than the equivalent DLA award she had previously been receiving and so we set about gathering evidence to support the claim. This would mean that rather than having her entitlements stopped, Betty should have been receiving much more financial support to help her with her needs.

We represented Betty at a tribunal hearing and the tribunal agreed with our arguments. Betty was awarded the enhanced rates of both PIP components for five years. This meant that Betty was due arrears of more than £15,000 for PIP and that the non-dependent deduction charge should no longer have applied, saving £15.95 a week. Betty was therefore due further arrears, as she had overpaid rent and council tax.

In addition, the PIP award meant that Finlay was able to claim Universal Credit as a carer, resulting in arrears of around £4,000 being paid and an increase in Finlay’s monthly Universal Credit income of £167.73. A further result was that Finlay was no longer under any work-seeking conditionality to receive Universal Credit which meant he could focus on properly caring for his mother full time.

Betty is now able to pay their rent, council tax and other bills without falling into debt and without worrying about how much money will be left at the end of each month and being forced to make choices about food, clothes and other basic needs.