LONDON, Monday 8th April, 2013.
Despite continued reassurances from the Minster for Disabled People to the contrary, Disability Rights UK is concerned that the wording of regulations means the higher rate of Personal Independence Payment (PIP) will only be paid to disabled people who can reliably walk only up to 20 metres.
The wording of the Social Security (Personal Independence Payment) Regulations 2013 provides for those disabled people who can reliably move up to 50 metres to be awarded only the lowest PIP mobility rate (1).
The DWP expects that 428,000 disabled people who currently get the Disability Living Allowance (DLA) higher rate mobility component will lose it altogether or receive the lower amount (2).
Disability Rights UK believes this vital issue needs to be clarified through the Judicial Review action now being taken by three disabled people against the Government’s new mobility test. We are therefore submitting an expert witness statement.
This is because at no stage during the consultation process for the new benefit did the Government hint at setting a bench mark qualifying distance of 20 metres.
Under DLA someone is entitled to the higher rate of the mobility component if they are ‘unable or virtually unable to walk’. Usually claimants are considered to be ‘virtually unable to walk’ if they cannot walk more than around 50 metres.
The higher mobility rate of DLA is a vital personal independence resource for disabled people as it provides help towards the costs of an adapted car, powered wheelchair or scooter through the Motability scheme.
Liz Sayce, Chief Executive of Disability Rights UK says:
“We are very concerned about the impact of PIP which could see thousands of disabled people become institutionalised in their own homes. The DWP expects that 428,000 disabled people who currently get the higher rate mobility component will lose it altogether or receive the lower amount. This means that many will lose their car under the Motability car scheme so they will no longer be able to get to work or get out and about. We strongly believe the benefits system should support and not constrain disabled people’s independence.”
Sir Bert Massie, Disability Rights UK ambassador says: -
“The Government’s claim that reducing the distance people can walk from 50 to 20 meters is merely a clarification is nonsense. It was introduced late in the regulatory process and was not subject to consultation. The result will be hundreds of thousands of disabled people who currently qualify for DLA will fail to quality for PIP. This will mean that many disabled people unable to walk more than 50 meters will lose their support, their Motability car and perhaps their job. Open and fair consultation would have produced a better way forward.”
Karen Ashton from Public Law Solicitors who is representing one of the disabled people taking the Judicial Review action said:
“What is at the heart of this legal challenge is fairness. The extra costs of getting out and about for those who have severe mobility problems can be huge. The higher rate mobility benefit can make the difference between being able to do everyday things that everyone else takes for granted - such as doing your own shopping and visiting friends and relatives - and only leaving the house for absolutely essential appointments. But the Government failed to mention the reduction to the 20m threshold in their consultations with disabled people and so those who are potentially affected have not had the chance to explain how devastating the consequences will be.”
Jane Young from We are Spartacus - the disabled people’s campaigning group on welfare reform adds: -
“Since the 20m criteria was announced in December, we've worked hard to explain to both politicians and civil servants that this new criteria will remove support from disabled people who really need it. Issuing an application for judicial review is the next step as we seek to ensure secure support for those with significant mobility needs."
While the Judicial Review action is not likely to be heard until July this year PIP is being introduced for new claimants in the North East and North West of England from today.
Disability Rights UK urges disabled people to contact their MP letting them know about the Judicial Review and that they have not been fully consulted about the 20m threshold. You can contact your MP by following the link parliament.uk/get-involved/...
We also ask disabled people who may potentially be affected by the new mobility threshold to let us know by tweeting us @DisRightsUK, posting on our Facebook page facebook.com/pages/Disabili... or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org Please give us brief details. We will not use your name in any campaigning unless you give your permission first.
1. For further information about the 20 metre Judicial Review Contact: Jane Young, disabled campaigner with the Spartacus network: 02082881037 or 07775892344 or David Standard, Leigh Day & Co: 0844 800 4981 or 07540 332717
2. Disability Rights UK’s vision is of a society where everyone with lived experience of disability or health conditions can participate equally as full citizens. We are disabled people leading change.
3. For more information on the Personal Independence Payment changes download our free factsheet disabilityrightsuk.org/pers...
(1) Activity 2(e) Part Three of Schedule 1 to the Personal Independence Payment Regulations 2013 legislation.gov.uk/uksi/201...
(2) DWP: PIP Reassessments and Impacts, December 2012(http://dwp.gov.uk/docs/pip-reassessments-and-impacts.pdf)