Over 50 charities forming the Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC) – including the MS Society, Parkinson’s UK, Mind and RNIB – today forecast a devastating impact on people with disabilities if the government ignores their concerns about the roll out of the new Personal Independence Payment (PIP).
As the programme is extended to new claimants today (10 June), the DBC worries that the government’s intention to save money will leave many of those with the greatest needs without vital support – despite its claim that these are the people the new benefit will help. PIP was launched in the North-West and parts of the North-East of England in April and will be extended to include all current DLA claimants from 2015. Following the reform, 600,000 fewer people will qualify for financial support to help with the costs of living with a disability as PIP replaces Disability Living Allowance (DLA).
The DBC is deeply concerned that mobility support could be wrongly withheld from those who need it. The criteria are extremely strict and stipulate that if people can walk just 20m – even using aids such as sticks – they won’t qualify for the enhanced rate of the benefit, and could lose up to £1,800 a year or their Motability vehicle. This could impact people’s independence if they rely heavily on the Motability scheme to live their daily lives, remain independent and even access work.
The DBC also highlights major concerns about the application process and how people are assessed. For example, a claimant could be ‘clinically’ examined by a healthcare professional who isn’t a doctor and does not have a detailed understanding of their condition.
The DBC is calling on the government to look into these issues to ensure that all claimants are assessed fairly so their needs are properly met and their independence safeguarded.
Claire Nurden, Co-Chair of the DBC and Senior Policy & Campaigns Officer at the MS Society said: “We are seriously concerned that the change to PIP will have a devastating impact on disabled people who really need support. Despite the government’s claims that the benefit is to help those in the greatest need, we believe that it’s many of these people that will lose out.
We are calling on the government to urgently revise the mobility criteria for the benefit, which currently deprives anyone who can walk even slightly further than 20 metres – the length of just over one double decker bus – of the support they need to remain independent.
We want assurances that the assessment process will be as fair as it can be – that means proper use of additional evidence and the abolition of clinical exams that are currently set to be carried out by assessors who aren’t properly qualified to do them.”
Tom Pollard, Co-Chair of the DBC and Senior Policy & Campaigns Officer at Mind said:
“It is vital that people living with disabilities, as a result of their medical condition, have access to the benefits they rely on to live their lives. There’s a real danger that if the DWP and the assessment providers don’t address the likely problems with PIP, then this benefit will follow the same path as the Work Capability Assessment for Employment and Support Allowance.
This could have adverse effects on disabled people who are unable to access a benefit they rely on to live their lives, and result in a costly appeals process that corrects mistakes that could have been avoided much earlier on.”
For press enquiries, please contact:
Amanda Francis, Press Officer, MS Society: 020 8438 0732
For out of hours or urgent enquiries: 07909 851401
Notes to editors:
• The Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC) is a national coalition of over 50 different charities and other organisations committed to working towards a fair benefits system.
• For more information on the DBC, please go to: https://disabilitybenefitsconsortium.wordpress.com/
• Using combined knowledge, experience and direct contact with disabled individuals and carers, the DBC seeks to ensure Government policy reflects and meets the needs of all disabled people.
• The Hardest Hit Myth-buster aims to set the record straight on important issues surrounding disability benefits, particularly Disability Living Allowance: https://disabilitybenefitsconsortium.wordpress.com/2013/04/29/hardest-hit-mythbuster-reveals-reality-behind-cuts/
• On 10th June 2013, the government’s roll out of the Personal Independence Payment or “PIP” incentive will extend to new claims across the UK, after initial trials of the program began in April.
• PIP will begin to replace Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for people aged 16 to 64 to help with some of the extra costs caused by long-term ill-health or a disability.