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Govt ignores disabled people over PIP

23 October 2013

Despite 1142 responses, from organisations and individuals, to the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) ‘Moving around activity’ consultation the Government has refused to change the current 20 metre rule.

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

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.

Background

Currently, only disabled people who cannot stand and then walk more than 20 metres safely, to an acceptable standard, repeatedly and in a reasonable time period can receive the enhanced PIP mobility component rate under the Moving around activity. The test for Disability Living Allowance high rate mobility component is more or less 50 metres, but 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.

The Government “Consultation on the PIP assessment 'moving around' activity” asked for opinions on this. Responses to the consultation broadly covered four main themes. These were:

  1. That there was no evidence to support the use of 20 metres as the distance for determining entitlement to the enhanced rate of the Mobility component and little evidence that those who could walk a little over 20 metres faced lower costs than an individual who could walk less than 20 metres.
  2. That the current 20 metres distance used in the criteria would have negative consequences for individuals. For example the loss of access to a Motability scheme car could increase isolation and reduce independence, have which could cause a deterioration in physical and mental health.
  3. That the existing criteria would increase individuals’ need for support from other public services and that this would have an increased cost for the Government.
  4. That respondents welcomed the inclusion in Regulations of the reliability criteria, which are used to measure a person’s ability to complete an activity safely, to an acceptable standard, repeatedly and within reasonable time period. However, they wanted to ensure that these were delivered appropriately and consistently in the PIP assessment.

The Government’s response

The Government refused to change the ‘moving around’ criteria from the existing 20 metres

“Whilst the 50 metre distance is used to measure mobility in other Government policies, it does not mean that it is the right distance for use in determining entitlement to the enhanced rate of the Mobility component. Government is entitled to use different criteria for different purposes and it is important that decisions on PIP criteria are based on an objective consideration of the policy intent for the benefit.

We recognise that people who are unable to reliably walk more than 50 metres have restricted mobility and independence, to a level that makes it reasonable to offer some support from the Government. This is achieved through the assessment criteria as set out in Regulations which award the standard rate to those who cannot reliably walk between 20 and 50 metres.”

The Government felt that it was ‘extremely difficult to estimate the knock-on costs to other parts of government resulting from use of the criteria” but will ‘continue to monitor the impact in this area as part of the implementation of PIP’.

Some respondents suggested a ‘social model approach to looking at the specific barriers faced by individuals’ as a means of assessment  but this was considered to be neither practical nor desirable for an assessment to determine benefit entitlement for PIP.

“Having considered all these factors, the Government believes that the use of 20 metres is the best way of identifying those whose physical mobility is most limited. We think it is justified to focus support in this way given the policy intent to target support on those with the greatest need and create a more financially sustainable benefit.

The reliability criteria are a key protection for claimants and, recognising the concerns voiced by some respondents to the consultation, we will look to introduce a requirement for Health Professionals involved in the assessment to confirm that they have referred to the criteria when formulating their advice. We will also revisit the guidance on reliability to ensure it captures the situations we have been told about and ensure that the criteria are applied consistently and fairly.”

The response also mentions the announcement, made by Motability on 1 October, to provide one-off transitional support to customers who, following their initial reassessment by Government for the new PIP benefit, lose their eligibility to remain on the Motability Scheme.

You can view the original consultation and the Government's response at https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/consultation-on-the-pip-assessment-moving-around-activity

Prior to the publication of this consultation Mike Penning, Minister of State for Disabled People had announced that expenditure for DLA and PIP will be cut from £14 billion in 2013-14 to £13.9 billion in 2014-15