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Judicial Review: Disabled People

Volume 558: debated on Thursday 14 February 2013

2. What recent discussions she has had with her ministerial colleagues on the effects on disabled people of the Government’s recent consultation on judicial review. (143137)

I routinely meet my colleagues in Government to discuss the impact of policies on disabled people. Before Christmas, I met the Lord Chancellor to discuss areas of common interest.

I thank the Minister for her reply, but may I draw her attention to the chronic lack of funding that has led to a crisis in social care that is particularly affecting working-age disabled people? May I also draw her attention to the report “The Other Care Crisis”, produced by five leading disability charities? There has been a colossal 45% increase in applications for judicial reviews of local authority social care policies. Does she think it is acceptable to undermine the judicial review process for disabled people who are simply trying to get the social care that they need?

There is no undermining of the judicial review process. In 1974, 160 applications were made, but last year alone, there were 11,000. Only about one in six of those applications was granted; fewer still were successful. We are ensuring that the right appeals proceed and that the unmeritous ones do not. This is about ensuring the integrity of the judicial review system and the smooth running of the legal process.

A phenomenon that I see in my constituency is that private landlords are saying, “No housing benefit.” The Minister knows that it is illegal to say, “No blacks, no Irish” and so on, but disabled people are more likely to be dependent on housing benefit than other people. Does she believe that what those private landlords are doing is legal or illegal? If it is illegal, will she enable disabled people’s organisations to take cases through judicial review to stop the landlords doing it?

Good local authorities work with good local landlords. As I have said, we will ensure that the correct cases go through. We want to ensure the integrity of the system, and those people who need to take cases to review will be able to do so. We are on the side of disabled people and we will ensure that their views are heard.