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 →
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 →
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.
I’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 →
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”
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 →
Today, 3rd December, is International Day of Disabled People, a day on which we should celebrate our progress in achieving human rights and equality for disabled people. But this year there is little to celebrate, as we anticipate the implementation of a horrifying range of policies set to devastate the lives of hundreds of thousands of disabled Britons.
Most disabled people rely on benefits of one sort or another – to help meet the additional costs of disability and because many disabled and sick people are unable to do much, or any, paid work. So most disabled people will be badly affected by welfare ‘reform’ as the Government seeks to reduce the benefits bill. Continue reading →