Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Appellant) v MM (Respondant)

Thursday 11 July, 2019 Written by 
Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Appellant) v MM (Respondant)

Judgment in the following Supreme Court case will be handed down on Thursday 18 July 2019 at 9.45am in Courtroom 1:

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Appellant) v MM (Respondent) (Scotland) – UKSC 2017/0215

On appeal from the Inner House, Court of Session, Scotland

The respondent ("MM") is a 47 year old man who has suffered from anxiety and depression for six years. He is heavily reliant on his partner's assistance for daily living, including in social situations. In 2015 he made a claim for personal independence payment ("PIP"). This was refused by the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions on the basis that he had not scored at least eight points in respect of either daily living activities or mobility activities, as required under the Social Security (Personal Independence Payment) Regulations 2013.

His appeal to the First-tier Tribunal ("FTT") was refused. The FTT increased the number of points awarded, but this was still insufficient to meet the eight points threshold for either component. In respect of his ability to engage people face to face ("Activity 9"), the FTT awarded two points. MM appealed to the Upper Tribunal ("UT"), against the FTT's decision on activity 9.

He contended that his case fell within descriptor 9c ("needs social support to be able to engage with other people") rather than 9b ("needs prompting to be able to engage with other people") with the consequence that he should have been awarded four points for Activity 9, rather than two. The UT allowed his appeal and remitted the case for rehearing by a differently constituted FTT. In so doing, the UT gave directions on the meaning of "social support" in descriptor 9c. This included that there may be situations under 9c where a qualified person can provide social support non-contemporaneously, and that social support can include "prompting" subject to the requirement that it has to be from a person trained or experienced in assisting people to engage in social situations. The Inner House dismissed the Secretary of State’s appeal against the decision of the UT.

The issue is:

Where a claim to personal independence payment under the Social Security (Personal Independence Payment) Regulations 2013 is based on a person needing social support to be able to engage with other people: (1) must the social support needed be contemporaneous with the engagement being supported? (2) does anything that constitutes needing "prompting" to be able to engage with other people also constitute social support, subject to it being provided by a person trained or experienced in assisting people to engage in social situations?

ABC Note: Treatment of the disabled is a hot issue right now. We will be bringing an update on this acse in due course.

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