DWP announces further consultation on PIP

Reblogged from http://wearespartacus.org.uk/dwp-announces-further-consultation-on-pip/

Note: Guardian article now also available: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jun/18/fight-for-disabled-people-mobility

Graphic depicting someone walking with a crutchThis is the press release I’ve put out today on the DWP’s announcement of a new consultation on the mobility component of PIP:

Disability campaigners welcome today’s announcement that the Government will re-consult on the mobility component of Personal Independence Payment, which replaces Disability Living Allowance for working age disabled adults. Organisations and individuals have been campaigning vigorously on this issue since we were shocked to hear, in December last year, that the walking distance criteria for the mobility component, and therefore for assistance from the Motability scheme, had been tightened from 50 metres to 20 metres. Continue reading

Do we still value people for who they are?

Disabled man surfing the internetRecently, I’ve been wondering: what happened to our society’s fundamental moral belief that people have inherent value by virtue of being human? When did we start, consciously or sub-consciously, measuring people’s well-being in terms of cost? Is this the kind of society we really want, or is it the result of a political ideology for which very few of us consciously voted?

A number of topics currently in the public domain share at least one important characteristic: they emphasise a worrying shift in our society’s values, a shift whereby our belief in the unique and intrinsic value of each individual is being compromised and replaced by an overriding concern about how much it costs to support those of us who are disabled or chronically sick. A blatant challenge to our long-held belief in the intrinsic value of human life was the recent re-election of Councillor Colin Brewer in the West Country. Councillor Brewer, who had previously resigned when a comment he had made in 2011 about disabled children costing too much became public knowledge, was interviewed by the Disability News Service last week, when he “insisted that he was a Christian, and believed that ‘all life is precious'” but also “repeatedly indicated that he believed there was a good argument for killing some disabled babies with high support needs, because of the cost of providing them with services”. This has understandably provoked an outcry from disabled people and their families and I would be surprised if he remains in office in the longer term. Continue reading

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.” Continue reading

Independent living is expensive – but its value exceeds the cost

This is the 8th annual Blogging against Disablism Day but I’ve never participated before. I’m not good at these ‘special days’. I write when I want to, when I have something to say and, above all, when I can. Campaigning, advising, writing briefings, attending meetings, maintaining websites, ill-health, family responsibilities etc all take their toll, which is why I don’t blog very often.

So I was going to leave it to others to mark this day… until I watched a set of videos recently produced by Scope for their Britain Cares campaign. Continue reading

Judicial review issued against PIP 20 metre criteria

For a growing list of links to media and blog posts, see http://wearespartacus.org.uk/pip/

Morris King & Hodge P.C. and other lawyers have announced that they are taking legal action against the Government on behalf of three disabled clients who are challenging the decision by Ian Duncan Smith, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, to bring in more stringent measures to qualify for mobility benefit. Continue reading

Fighting for our independence

Since the Coalition Government came to power, it has become increasingly clear that through a combination of austerity policies and ideological cuts (or ‘reforms’) the independence which disabled people have fought for over several decades is under real threat. These threats include, but are not limited to: the replacement of DLA by the ironically-named Personal Independence Payment, the scrapping of the Severe Disability Premium under Universal Credit, the closure of the Independent Living Fund and the pressures on local authority adult social care services which are increasingly under-funded and over-stretched. These latter two threats go hand in hand, and both are in the news today. Continue reading

Call to arms – challenging PIP regulations

Please note: our lawyers have informed us that they have a sufficient number of candidates to take part in the legal challenge and are therefore no longer looking for anyone else. However, if the case is successful, all those who may be affected by the reduction of the walking distance criteria from 50m to 20m will benefit.

On Tuesday 5 February, the Social Security (Personal Independence Payment) Regulations 2013 were passed by the House of Commons Eleventh Delegated Legislation Committee (audio recording). The debate, transcribed at http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/cmgeneral/deleg11/130205/130205s01.htm, lasted just a little over an hour, very few members of the committee contributed and all voted along party lines. And that was it. Regulations which determine the independence and well-being of almost 2 million disabled people were dealt with quickly and quietly, like some routine to be got out of the way. Continue reading

PIP: What have we won?

Lawyer in courtI’m beyond exhausted. Since 13 December, when the Social Security (Personal Independence Payment) Regulations 2013 were tabled, I’ve barely stopped. I’m passionate about all ill-advised and incompetent welfare changes that affect disabled and sick people, but I confess I’m even more passionate about this one, as it affects me. I hope that doesn’t shock you; we’re all more motivated by issues that affect us personally, it’s only human.

Once we’d analysed the regulations, it was clear there was some reason to rejoice, but also much to concern us. The positive news was that the Government has decided on a longer, phased implementation period, such that DLA claimants with indefinite awards won’t have to apply for PIP until October 2015 and thereafter – after the next general election. This is obviously a political stunt, dressed up as ‘listening’; it’s clear the Coalition parties don’t want media reports of hundreds of thousands of disabled people losing their Motability vehicles on their watch, so what better idea than to dump it onto the next Government? After all, the likelihood of Labour being willing and able to reform PIP in five short months if they win the election in May 2015 has to be slim. And anyway, that’s of no comfort to the 30% of DLA claimants on time-limited awards who expect to have to apply for PIP before 2015. Continue reading

How welfare reform will take away my independence (video)

The Government wants to take away my wheelchair accessible vehicle. Oh, they haven’t told me personally, of course, they don’t need to. They’ve just decided that if I can walk more than 20 metres (which they may decide I can, as I still walk around my home) I no longer have need of it, and the independence it represents. The detail is explained in my last post: https://janeyoung.me.uk/2012/12/14/well-over-100000-to-lose-motability-vehicles-under-draconian-new-rules/

This week I’m using my vehicle to go to stay with a friend in Kent for a couple of days, just for a bit of a break. It’s rather complicated, because I have to take large specially-made supports to shape the bed, my specialist pressure-relieving mattress, oxygen cylinders and a veritable pharmacy of medication, not forgetting plenty of morphine. But the important thing is, I can go; and I can also go to hospital appointments, support my elderly mother and her disabled neighbour, do voluntary work, go shopping etc. But I can only make these journeys because I have my wheelchair accessible vehicle, part-funded by Government grant.

I’ve made a video to show you what I mean. But it’s not just about me, it’s about all the others who have similar mobility needs to mine. As you watch the demonstration, please think about them too. As Benjamin Franklin said:

“Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are”

Go to http://wearespartacus.org.uk/pip-emergency-act-now/ to find out how you can help.

Well over 100,000 to lose Motability vehicles under draconian new rules

Man on crutches

For resources to lobby your MP, see http://wearespartacus.org.uk/pip-emergency-act-now/

For a video demonstration of how this will affect me, see https://janeyoung.me.uk/2013/01/01/how-welfare-reform-will-take-away-my-independence/

When I blogged on this topic back in January 2012, I predicted thousands of disabled people would lose their Motability vehicles under the Government’s draft criteria for Personal Independence Payment (PIP), set to replace Disability Living Allowance (DLA) under the Welfare Reform Act. Yesterday, the Government published the final version of the criteria and the reality is far, far worse than we could have imagined.

Many consultation responses on the draft criteria complained that the descriptors for Activity 12 (Activity 11 in the draft), addressing physical difficulties in moving around, were unclear and confusing. We hoped they would be clarified; in particular, we expected clarification that being unable to walk more than 50 metres would qualify claimants for the enhanced mobility component and the Motability scheme. But we’re stunned by the decision that to qualify for Motability, a claimant needs to be unable to walk more than 20 metres – a far shorter distance*. Continue reading