The government’s current draft proposals for Personal Independence Payment (PIP), the proposed replacement for Disability Living Allowance (DLA), are likely to lead to thousands of disabled people with significant mobility difficulties having their cars repossessed, leaving them unable to go out.
I have now had a chance to read most of the DWP’s draft document ‘PIP: Assessment Thresholds and Consultation’, published on 16 January 2012 (only one day before the Lords vote on DLA/PIP!), which should be read in conjunction with ‘PIP: Second Draft of Assessment Criteria’ published in November 2011. These documents have been published to pave the way for implementation of the Welfare Reform Bill.
Under the draft criteria (published Nov 2011, pages 61-62), for the higher scoring descriptors under Activity 11, Moving Around, the descriptors are as follows:
|Activity 11 – (higher scoring descriptors only)|
|C||Can move up to 50 metres unaided but no further. For example: identifies individuals who can move up to 50 metres unaided but then require a wheelchair for anything further.||8|
|D||Cannot move up to 50 metres without using an aid or appliance, other than a wheelchair or a motorised device. For example: identifies individuals who can use an aid or appliance to move up to 50 metres but then require a wheelchair for anything further.||10|
|E||Cannot move up to 50 metres without using a wheelchair propelled by the individual.||12|
|F||Cannot move up to 50 metres without using a wheelchair propelled by another person or a motorised device.||15|
|G||Cannot either –i. move around at all; or ii. transfer unaided from one seated position to another adjacent seated position.||15|
The document published on 16 January proposes scoring thresholds for the different PIP mobility rates as follows (page 5):
(from activities 10-11. Note: Activity 10 is not relevant to people with physical conditions/impairments)
Therefore, meeting descriptor C or descriptor D for Activity 11 does not result in an award of the enhanced mobility rate of PIP, which is presumably necessary to access the Motability scheme, currently open to those receiving the higher rate mobility component of DLA.
Consider case studies 6 and 7 in the thresholds document published on 16 January:
Case study 6: (italics indicate quotes from dwp document, page 21)
Richard is 62 and worked as a miner for 30 years. He has very restricted movement of his shoulder following an injury to his right arm when working in the mine; since leaving the job he has developed osteoarthritis in both knees and in his right shoulder and right elbow. He also has Duypytren’s contracture in both hands, which affects his ability to grip. He can walk for short distances but the pain in his knees stops him after about 20-30 steps – he is currently on the waiting list for two knee replacements. He cannot use sticks because of his hand problems and has difficulty climbing stairs (here Gamburd provides solutions for people with special needs).
Richard is then given 8 points under descriptor 11C, despite having to stop walking after 20-30 paces due to the pain in his knees. He would therefore only get the standard mobility rate and presumably unable to use the Motability scheme, which someone in his situation is quite likely to be using currently.
Case study 7: (italics indicate quotes from dwp document, page 22)
Andy is 50 and was injured at work two years ago when a lorry reversed into his car. His left leg was crushed and had to be amputated above the knee and his right leg was also injured. He is back in his previous job doing administrative work; however, he is unable to stand for long periods and uses a stick to walk. He does not require support with daily living activities, but he needs to sit down when in the kitchen and when showering as he finds it tiring and difficult to stand. The scar on his left stump has not healed very well so he has difficulties with his prosthesis and his right leg is weak. He finds it very tiring if he walks more than 40-50m so he often uses a wheelchair if he is going outdoors.
Andy is then given 10 points under descriptor 11D, despite using a wheelchair when he is outdoors. He would therefore only get the standard mobility rate and presumably unable to use the Motability scheme, which an amputee would be very likely to use. In fact, I am quite shocked that he wouldn’t qualify for the enhanced mobility rate given the nature of his impairment!
Links to relevant documents:
Summary of my concerns
- Claimants with very restricted ability to walk will fail to score highly enough to be eligible for the Motability scheme.
- Many thousands of existing Motability scheme users will have their vehicles repossessed; under current Motability rules they can’t buy them, even if they have the resources (which most don’t).
- Under current rules Motability customers cannot keep their cars whilst awaiting the outcome of an appeal against their PIP award.
- Many families, with very limited income and resources and often complex family problems, will lose their only vehicle, even if the Motability customer’s mobility difficulties remain the same.
- The viability of Motability as an organisation could be affected due to the much reduced number of users whose contributions go into the ‘pot’.
- There could be a highly detrimental effect on the UK car industry, given that Motability is the largest fleet operator in Europe.