Court of Appeal to decide whether DWP rule that leaves disabled people stuck in unsuitable accommodation is discriminatory

The Court of Appeal has granted permission to appeal in a case concerning whether the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)’s ‘Loans for Mortgage Interest’ (LMI) scheme unlawfully discriminates against disabled people.

The case is brought on behalf of ‘JD’, a 35-year-old man with multiple disabilities, who is in receipt of LMI. It challenges the automatic requirement for recipients to repay their LMI loan when moving house, rather than being able to transfer the loan to a new home to be repaid at a later date — even where this will prevent a disabled person from being able to afford to move to accommodation suitable for their disability-related needs. It is argued that the blanket application of this ‘repayment on sale requirement’ (RSR), without the possibility of any exception being made in such cases, discriminates against disabled people in breach of Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

In July 2020 the High Court dismissed JD's claim, the judge holding that, although the RSR does have a particular impact on disabled recipients, this is justified as a way of recovering the loans more quickly and reducing the administrative burden on the DWP.

However, on 28 January 2021, the Court of Appeal granted permission to appeal, accepting that it was arguable that the judge’s decision was wrong and that there is a wider public interest in clarifying the correct approach to justification for future cases.

Jamie Burton and Daniel Clarke are instructed by Central England Law Centre for JD.