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By Dave
19/12/2008

Vulnerability and incapacity benefit

Mangion v Lewisham LBC only appears on lawtel as an ex tempore judgment on 11.12.08 so if somebody out there has a transcript/better note of the Court of Appeal’s judgment, that would be helpful to understand this decision. What appears to have happened is that Ms Mongian had alcohol and back problems. Lewisham found her not to have a priority need because the back problems were not severe enough to affect her mobility, and her alcohol problems were a result of “behaviour of choice”. On review, she submitted medical evidence from an assessment for incapacity benefit to the effect that she had moderate depression and that her “mental health problems were caused by alcohol dependency, which caused severe disability”. The review officer upheld the decision. Ms Mangion argued that the fact that she had been assessed as having a severe disability was a relevant factor which should have been taken into account on review.

The CA held that the medical assessment was conducted for incapacity benefit and was not a finding that she had a severe mental disability (presumably for other purposes, ie an assessment of vulnerability). As the diagnosis was moderate depression, the review officer was entitled to find that this did not prevent her from getting accommodation herself. Her condition was “not debilitating and not a state that prevented her from doing day to day things”. The review officer had correctly address the criteria in s 189(1)(c) and was entitled to reach that conclusion. The message to advisors, then, seems to be take care as to the purpose of the medical assessment submitted to the authority in support of a Part VII/Part VI application/review.

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