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Letter to Esther Mcvey re PIP mobility test

01 March 2013

Disability Rights UK has written to Esther McVey MP for clarification on the PIP 50 metres walking test following statements made by the Minister in a recent question and answer session.

Ms Esther McVey MP
House of Commons
London
SW1A 0AA

March 1, 2013

Dear Minister,

We are writing following your address yesterday to Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs) at the DWP’s Personal Independence Payment (PIP) Delivery Update and Claimant Journey Teach-in.

During the Q&A session you explained that the enhanced (highest) mobility rate of PIP will be awarded to those disabled people who cannot ever stand then walk aided or unaided more than 20 metres.

However, you were equally definitive and clear that the enhanced mobility rate of PIP will be paid to those disabled people who cannot stand and move up to 50 metres unaided or aided safely, reliably, repeatedly or in a reasonable time period.

While we along with other DPOs welcome your clarification, the present wording of the Social Security (Personal Independence Payment) Regulations 2013 provides for those disabled people who cannot stand and move up to 50 metres safely, reliably, repeatedly or in a reasonable time period to be awarded only the standard (lowest) PIP mobility rate.
 
This was acknowledged and confirmed to us by a senior DWP officer at the end of yesterday’s meeting.

We strongly welcomed and supported the recent amendment of the main PIP regulations which provide that disabled people will be assessed for PIP only on what activities they can do “safely, reliably, repeatedly and in a reasonable time period”.

This amendment did not on its own however, reverse the provision that those disabled people who can move only up to 20 metres will be paid the highest PIP mobility award.

Under Disability Living Allowance, ‘virtually unable to walk’ is often interpreted as meaning being unable to walk more than 50 metres.
Of the 173 consultation responses the Government received to the proposed PIP assessment criteria, only one suggested that the qualifying distance for those who have the most difficulty getting around should perhaps be changed.

In addition, the difference in benefit between the standard rate and enhanced PIP mobility rates is significant - £34.25 per week. Furthermore, only those who receive the enhanced PIP mobility rate are eligible for the Motability scheme.
We urge you to prioritise further amending the PIP regulations so that the position you have stated is made legally clear. We suggest that this can be done by amending the mobility descriptors so as to state that the enhanced PIP mobility rate is payable to those disabled people who –

“Can stand and then move either aided or unaided no more than 50 metres”.

We hope that you will take steps to ensure that the regulations reflect your intention accurately. If you would like to discuss this further, please do not hesitate to arrange a call through my Executive Assistant Cheryl Gowar at 020 7566 0125 or by emailing liz.sayce@disabilityrightsuk.org.

I look forward to your reply,

Yours sincerely,

Liz Sayce OBE
Chief Executive
Disability Rights UK

Note: A recent report by We are Spartacus (who initially raised the question of enhanced PIP mobility rate entitlement at the DWP meeting) estimates that 428,000 fewer working age disabled people will be eligible for the Motability scheme by 2018 if the ’20 metres rule’ remains unchanged.
 
The report, Emergency Stop, is available @ http://wearespartacus.org.uk