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School of Law

Law and Society Lecture 2019: ‘On being able to walk twenty metres’

21 February 2019

Time: 6:30 - 8:00pm
Venue: Peston Lecture Theatre, Graduate Centre, Queen Mary University of London, E1 4NS, Mile End Road, United Kingdom

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About the Law and Society Lecture

The Queen Mary Law and Society Lecture is a major annual lecture. Past lecturers include Shami Chakrabati, Sir Peter Gross, Jolyon Maugham, Clive Stafford-Smith, Sir Ross Cranston, David Ormerod and Sir Rabinder Singh. This year's lecture will be chaired by David Ruebain, Chief Executive of the Conservatoire for Dance and Drama.

About 'On being able to walk twenty meters'

The Welfare Reform Act 2012 introduced Personal Independence Payments (PIPs), and in particular the enhanced mobility rate, with its twenty metre test to replacing the more flexibly applied fifty metre test for the higher rate mobility component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA). Rather than modify DLA so as to cure its perceived faults, the Government decided to ignore the past and start afresh. Deploying through the press the rhetoric of ‘Strivers v Skivers’ and ‘the real disabled’, it disregarded the accumulated expectations and security that had been given by lifetime awards to DLA, and attempted to rule out from PIP determinations evidence that had been used to inform decisions on DLA eligibility. The lecture examines the implementation of PIP and shows that the norms according to which DWP operates are radically at variance with those laid down in the Regulations governing PIPs. These developments have been central to the creation of a ‘hostile environment’, under austerity, for people with disabilities.

About the Speaker

Peter Alldridge has been Drapers’ Professor of Law at Queen Mary since 2003. He has published widely in a number of fields, including financial crime and disability law. In 2013 he was made a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences. In 2017 he served as a UN expert in Corruption, and in 2017-18 he was the President of the Society of Legal Scholars. He is a member of the Executive Committee of the Association of Disabled Lawyers. 

About the Chair

David is Chief Executive of the Conservatoire for Dance and Drama.  Prior to that, he had been Chief Executive of Equality Challenge Unit, a policy and research agency funded to advance equality & diversity in universities in the UK and colleges in Scotland (until it merged with two other agencies to form Advance HE).  Before that, he was a practicing solicitor for 21 years; latterly as Director of Legal Policy at the Equality and Human Rights Commission of Great Britain following a career in private practice as a Partner at and founder of the Department of Education, Equality and Disability Law at Levenes Solicitors.