The Government has published a fresh consultation on the mobility component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP), which is replacing Disability Living Allowance (DLA) between 2013 and 2018. The consultation asks a single question: “What are your views on the “Moving around” activity within the current PIP assessment criteria?”. The email address for responses is email@example.com and it would help us if you copy your response to firstname.lastname@example.org to help us with monitoring.
The Social Security (Personal Independence Payment) Regulations 2013 include a 20 metre benchmark distance to determine eligibility for the enhanced rate mobility component of PIP (for people with mobility difficulties who have no difficulties in planning and following a journey). The criteria in the regulations represent the Government’s preferred option in this consultation.
Under the regulations, physically disabled people of working age (16-64), who can move more than 20 metres – safely, to an acceptable standard, repeatedly and in a timely fashion (without a wheelchair) – are not entitled to the enhanced rate mobility component of PIP (which replaces the higher rate mobility component of DLA) and cannot take advantage of the Motability scheme.
Disabled people and their organisations disagree with the 20 metre benchmark distance.
A 50 metre benchmark distance is widely used as a measure of significant mobility impairment – notably in relation to other disability benefits, the blue (disabled) parking badge and in official guidance on creating an accessible built environment, including the location of disabled parking spaces in relation to public and commercial buildings.
Since most wheelchair users can walk a little, the use of 20 metres as the benchmark distance runs the risk that disabled people with significant mobility difficulties – people who can walk 20 metres but not 50 metres – lose essential adapted cars or specially converted wheelchair accessible vehicles supplied via the Motability scheme.
If disabled people with significant walking difficulties fail to qualify for the enhanced mobility component, and therefore the Motability scheme, they will lose their independent mobility and are very likely to experience social isolation and worsening health.
Depriving disabled people of support for independent mobility is likely to increase costs elsewhere in the public sector, especially in health and social care services, due to the need for support to make essential journeys and an increase in ill-health due to isolation and loss of independence. Whilst the Government is clearly concerned about managing overall levels of welfare expenditure, it is important to note that money spent on other services will NOT compensate disabled people for the loss of their independent mobility.