Hartlepool MP highlights disabled man’s benefit discrimination in Parliament

Mike Hill raised the issue of mental health funding during a debate on NHS workforce in the House of Commons.
Mike Hill raised the issue of mental health funding during a debate on NHS workforce in the House of Commons.

Hartlepool’s MP has called on the Government for more mental health funding after a landmark High Court ruling that a disabled town man had been unlawfully discriminated against when he switched to Universal Credit.

Mike Hill raised the case of the Hartlepool man, known only as ‘AR’ when he pressed the Health and Social Care minister Stephen Barclay for answers in the House of Commons.

High Court in London

High Court in London

The High Court last week ruled the Department for Work and Pensions unlawfully discriminated against the man with severe mental health issues who lost out by £178 a month when he moved to Hartlepool and switched from two disability benefits to Universal Credit.

Mr Hill asked the Minister during a debate on NHS workforce: “Does he agree that people with disabilities should not be penalised in such a way?

“Will he commit to increasing mental health budgets to ensure that such people get the support that they need in their communities post-Winterbourne?”

Mr Barclay said the Prime Minister had announced an extra £1billion for mental health services by 2020 the previous day and the issue was a Government priority.

Mr Hill said: “Given the recent landmark High Court ruling that the Government had discriminated against a disabled constituent of mine over the application of Universal Credit I wanted to bring this matter to the attention of the Minister of State during Health and Social Care questions so that he could do something about improving support for people with disabilities and mental health issues within communities.

“Since the Winterbourne View Care Home Scandal In 2012 many mental health patients have been moved out of institutions and placed in supported living in their home communities, many of whom could suffer the same loss of income as my constituent simply because they moved into an area where Universal Credit had been rolled out.

“In the case of ‘AR’, from Hartlepool, he lost out by £178 per month, which is a significant sum of money for a vulnerable adult who is unable to work.

“Frankly I wasn’t surprised by the response I got to my question as the Government is aiming to appeal the High Court decision, but I did welcome the Minister’s acknowledgement that for far too long mental health has been under resourced and that the Government intends to prioritise it from now on.”