High Court gives green light to PIP legal challenge

The High Court has today granted permission for a full hearing of the judicial review challenge to the government’s introduction of more stringent qualifying criteria for mobility benefit.

Steven Sumpter can only walk a few metres with a stick and is otherwise dependent on a wheelchair. He was assessed as eligible for the high rate of the mobility component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) last year and has used this to lease a Motability car. Along with thousands of others, he fears that he may lose this benefit under the new Regulations (1).  Under the DLA scheme, a person is entitled to the higher rate 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 50m. Under the new Personal Independence Payment (PIP) scheme, the relevant distance is reduced to 20m.

Karen Ashton from Public Law Solicitors who represents Mr Sumpter said:

“I am very pleased that the court has found that this case deserves a full hearing.  The higher rate of mobility benefit can make an extraordinary difference to a disabled person’s life.  But the Government failed to mention the reduction to 20m in their consultations and so those who might be affected did not have the chance to put their case and explain how devastating the consequences will be.”

Jane Young, an independent consultant currently working with the We are Spartacus campaigning network, said:

“Whilst it is true that under the PIP regulations and guidance, in order to be considered able to walk not more than 20 metres a claimant should be able to do so “safely, to an acceptable standard, repeatedly and within a reasonable time period”, the fact remains that 20 metres is an extremely short distance. Our concern is that by denying people with significant walking difficulties support for independent mobility, the regulations will seriously compromise their well-being. Disabled people who can only walk short distances face being stuck in their homes, isolated and unable to travel independently to health appointments, to work, to the shops or to social activities. This is especially the case in rural areas, where public transport is infrequent, inadequate and inaccessible and long travel distances are the norm.”

(1) The Social Security (Personal Independence payments) Regulations 2013)

Note: By agreement with the government’s lawyers and the court, only Steve Sumpter’s case is going ahead at this stage.

24 thoughts on “High Court gives green light to PIP legal challenge

  1. Brilliant. Thanks Jane. Mo x Mo Stewart Disability researcher Disabled veteran (WRAF) Retired healthcare professional http://www.whywaitforever.com/dwpatosveterans.html *** The contents of this email are intended for the recipient only and may be confidential. Permission is not given for this information to be published, forwarded or distributed further. ***


  2. thank you for taking up the fight for us. I would be housebound without my motability car. I can walk just about 50 meters, but slowly and painfully, I could manage 20meters. its just after that that the pain kicks in. I couldnt do it everyday either, nor for any length of time. If I do have to walk more than that, I am in bed for the next 3 days. I too am worried that I would lose my mobility component.

  3. I do hope the Court finds the new criteria cruel and inhumane . Lets hope humanity , compassion and common sense prevail .

  4. This is absolutely fantastic news…….Well done to all involved…..Thank you all. xxx

  5. This is great, Well done! We also need to fight for people who need an escort with them to keep them safe. This allowed them to claim higher rate DLA acknowledging their more complex circumstances and people could choose whether to have the allowance to help them get around or choose a mobility car to make their lives easier. I don’t see any equivalent in PIP.

    • I don’t think it’s right that people who need an escort can get higher rate mobility component of DLA, since that’s based on being unable or virtually unable to walk (with the exception of the recent decision to extend eligibility to blind people). But it is true that there is no sufficient activity under PIP – in either the daily living or mobility component – to cover the need for constant supervision. Disability Rights UK and others have alerted to that problem. Unfortunately I’m not in a position to identify anyone needing constant supervision to challenge this; if it could be challenged I would expect an organisation such as the National Autistic Society to sponsor a challenge.

      • I don’t think it’s right to discriminate against people who have high needs. There are many like my 24 year old son who can’t look after themselves and need help getting around. It is entirely proper for him to receive higher rate DLA because he has exceptional needs and to be more active and get out and about he needs aids to help him and keep him safe. The Higher rate DLA is paid when people need help getting around not just because they have physical disabilities. Perhaps you will be pleased to hear that he has now lost his DLA completely because he has moved into a residential placement and is apparently not entitled to claim it anymore. My wife also has the middle rate of mobility for the same reason although her needs are less severe she still has a right to be kept safe when doing things that everyone else takes for granted. We are a very independent family happy to pay our own way. DLA simply allows us as a family to be slightly less disabled.

      • Can I ask, why when going into a residential placement do people, in this case your son, lose their DLA? I don’t understand the reasoning behind that decision. He still has to go out and still has the same needs as before so why? I could more understand if the care component of DLA was stopped or reduced as in residential placement perhaps cooking is done for the residents, and they get help if needed to shower etc? But mobility DLA seems to me to be a constant need.

      • Sorry, Ian, I didn’t mean it’s not the right thing to do, I meant that as I understand it, it’s not correct according to DLA rules that a need for supervision is treated in the same way as being unable or virtually unable to walk! So I should have used the word “correct”, not the word “right”!! I was making no comment on whether it’s morally right or not, because I think people with all kinds of impairment should be supported. Sorry I was clumsy in how I expressed myself.

        Also, my understanding is that after the Government backed down, people can keep their mobility component but not their care component when they go into residential care.

        Under PIP, people who have a great deal of difficulty planning and following a journey will be able to get enhanced rate mobility component, which is an improvement (one of very few!) on DLA. So for the first time, people who can walk but need constant supervision to go out should be eligible for the Motability scheme.

        The problem this legal challenge seeks to address is that if they use 20m as the benchmark distance for enhanced rate, many people with significant mobility difficulties will no longer be able to get the enhanced rate or access the Motability scheme, even if their mobility costs are high.

    • I need someone with me every time I go outside. My whole right side goes into spasm and I fall over, so I always have to link someone as a frame or stick don’t help as my arm is involved. I was accessed as not needing any mobility help, only minimum care! I never thought I would get higher rate but did think I would get lower rate mobility, mainly do I could get a cab to hospital appointments and not rely on having someone with me at all times, I feel like young child! It is already a very unfair system in my opinion, PIP will just make it more so. But those of us who need someone with us are seen as being able to walk fine to the accessors, and not entitled to anything. We SHOULD get lower rate, it’s very unfair. I don’t however think it is right for people like me to get higher rate as I can walk, most of the time, I just happen to fall over, a lot, and on my own I can, and have, injure myself quite badly if I hit the foot path. Everyone who needs an escort/companion to help them get about should get lower rate mobility in my opinion, it just isn’t fair. I have only been out of my house twice in thee weeks, both to the doctor’s, as I had no one available to go out with me. With low rate mobility I could get a cab to a supermarket and use a mobility scooter when there, instead I am often a prisoner in my own home. x

      • Thank you Jane, I understand now, sorry for the misunderstanding.

        angelauk: To clarify, the reason given for losing his DLA was that because he is 100% Health funded that should pay for everything. Unfortunately this is not true as the placement does not cover his clothes, toiletries, treats or trips out other than support staff. It is true that the wonderful home do their best and I have been able now to get ESA for him but as I say was told that the DLA would have to stop. Since then I found this: http://www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/m-4-12.pdf which says that actually if the home does not provide doctors and nurses then DLA is payable. I hope the link works.

  6. Thank you Jane for doing something so difficult for everyone who needs the higher rate DLA. My sister has a motability car and would be housebound without it, she could however manage 20 metres with her walking frame, but with great difficulty. I do not trust her to be accessed fairly, with all the ATOS horror stories out there, so I am very worried for her future and quality of life. Hopefully your case will make the government change the criteria to where it is for DLA. Thank you again and God bless you xx

  7. Hi don’t put all your hopes in the court thay are just the same as the government two faced

  8. Thanks for taking this on it will make lots of people’s live that much easier.

  9. Pingback: High Court gives green light to PIP legal challenge

  10. Pingback: 8 May 2013: High Court grants permission for judicial review of PIP mobility provisions | Train on the Tracks

  11. Thank you so much for all you are doing,I have MS and can’t walk much further than 20metres,after being housebound for 6months I have just ordered my first Motability car,I would be housebound again if it was taken away from me,good luck.

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