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Disability Rights UK condemns Government’s sham consultation on Personal Independence Payment and mobility

PRESS RELEASE

21 October 2013

When Government suddenly did a 6 week consultation on the specific question of whether being unable to walk 20 metres or 50 metres should be the threshold for claiming Personal Independence Payment, many disabled people viewed the consultation as a sham designed to head off a judicial review. The judicial review action was being brought against the withdrawal of the DLA higher mobility rate to all those who can walk more than 20 metres.

Disabled people and our organisations wondered if responding to the consultation was a complete waste of time.

It now seems they were right.

Despite receiving over 1,100 responses opposing the new PIP mobility test the Government is pressing ahead with plans that will mean that many disabled people unable to walk more than 50 meters will lose their support, their Motability car and perhaps their job and see thousands of disabled people become institutionalised in their own homes.

Disability Rights UK is appalled by this assault on our independent living and ability to contribute to society.

The DWP itself has estimated that 428,000 will lose their DLA higher mobility entitlement. It is no good claiming it is going to ‘those who need it most’. If, for instance, you have a learning disability and need a travel buddy, or if you need an adapted car, then without them you will be unable to travel, will becomes isolated and unable to participate in your community.

While the announcement of some transitional help for those who lose their Motability car is welcome it is not enough to compensate for the removal of benefit entitlement and of no help at all to those who cannot drive and have no Motability car. There is no transitional help for people needing other sorts of support with travelling (other than an adapted car).

The use of the 20 metre rule is flawed. In evidence gathered by organisations representing disabled people, many of those that can mobilise for more than 20 metres (but less than 50 metres) face the same ‘extra costs’ as those that can only mobilise up to this distance. No longer qualifying for the enhanced rate of the mobility component of PIP will have a devastating impact on their lives.

Notes:

  • The current test to receive the enhanced rate of the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) mobility component is the ability to stand and then walk more than 20 metres safely, to an acceptable standard, repeatedly and in a reasonable time period.
  • The test for Disability Living Allowance (which PIP has replaced for claimants of working age) high rate mobility component, is more or less 50 metres. Under PIP a disabled person who cannot stand and then walk 50 metres safely, to an acceptable standard, repeatedly and in a reasonable time period automatically will only receive at the standard PIP mobility component rate.
  • Concerns were raised about the effect on disabled people so the Government published a consultation on the 20 metre test. The government’s original consultation and its response are at https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/consultation-on-the-pip-assessment-moving-around-activity
  • There were 1142 responses to the consultation from organisations and individuals. Almost all advocated a distance higher than the current 20 metres but this was rejected by the Government. For more information see http://disabilityrightsuk.org/news/2013/october/govt-ignores-disabled-people-over-pip