THE UK Government has lost yet another case in Scotland’s courts, this time a defeat for the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) in a case in which they withheld a personal independence payment to an anonymous Scottish man suffering from long-term depression.

The failed appeal in the Court of Session by the DWP follows a string of lost immigration cases. The latest appeal was over an earlier tribunal decision that the claimant was entitled to a payment because he was receiving support in his daily life from family members in order for him to engage socially with other people.

The 47-year-old man lives with his partner and two young children aged three and five. He has suffered from anxiety and depression for about six years, and has been on medication for that condition for about four years – the man worked for the DWP until November 2011 when his attempts to return to work ended in failure.

In his judgement, Lord Glennie explained the regulations: “The scores for daily living activities and for mobility activities are determined by adding up the number of points awarded for each activity by reference to the applicable descriptor. The two categories, viz daily living activities and mobility activities, are kept separate and the points awarded within each category are not aggregated.

“Eight points are needed in a particular category (ie daily living activities and/or mobility activities) for any level of benefit to be available by way of personal independence payment under the Act.”

The man only qualified for seven points and he appealed against that finding arguing that he needed social support to engage with other people.

The case turned on the question of what constitutes ‘prompting’ and support. The DWP argued that social support had to be “contemporaneous” and be provided by “a person trained or experienced in assisting people to engage in social situations.”

The three Scottish judges rejected that argument. Glennie wrote: “The possibility of overlap between “prompting” and “support” is, in our view, reinforced by the fact that “social support” is not limited to support provided by persons with particular training or expertise or which is provided professionally, but may include support provided by family or friends.”

Lawyers for the DWP argued that for the support to be “contemporaneous” it would have to have been given not more than “minutes” before the person needing prompting began to prepare or cook his meal.

Glennie wrote: “It is commonplace for people providing assistance with meals to come in at different times of day, set out the ingredients and leave notes, all designed to remind and encourage the person needing help to look after themselves and cook themselves an evening meal.

“There can be no justification for a requirement that prompting or social support must be given during or immediately before the face to face engagement with other people.

A DWP spokesperson said: “We are reviewing the implications of this judgement, and will respond in due course.”