The government has recently opened a consultation on the ‘moving around’ activity for Personal Independence Payments. The key issue is whether the cut-off for Enhanced Rate Mobility (equivalent to Higher Rate in DLA) should be at 20 metres, 50 metres or some other distance.
The We Are Spartacus team have produced an excellent briefing which you can read to find out more information about the consultation (a short summary is also provided below). Disability Benefits Consortium also have a briefing.
If you make a response to the consultation, please also send a copy to firstname.lastname@example.org if you are happy to do so, as the Spartacus team would like to carry out an independent review of the responses. Consultation responses have to be submitted by the end of Monday 5th August. You may wish to use our template letter but remember to include your own personal experience.
You can also complete the Spartacus survey; this will be very helpful in informing the response that the Spartacus team make. If you wish to contact your MP to request his or her support, we also have a template letter. Remember to include your name and address as MPs will only respond on behalf of their own constituents.
Previously, people unable to walk 50m received the higher rate mobility of Disability Living Allowance. Under Personal Independence Payments, these people will receive only the standard rate, leaving them ineligible for the Motability scheme. This is a retrogressive step.
The government says that those who can walk 20-50m have “some, albeit limited, mobility.” Under DLA, this distance was considered “virtually unable to walk.” This was established by case law. The government’s regulations therefore run contrary to case law.
Government guidelines in the report “Inclusive Mobility” include:
- In off-street car parks operated by a Local Authority and in car parks offered for public use by private companies, spaces for Blue Badge holders should be provided as close as possible, preferably within 50 metres of the facilities served by the car park.
- Seats and perches should be placed or regular intervals along paths in the countryside. They should be located no more than 100 metres apart.
- In commonly used pedestrian areas, and transport interchanges and stations, seats should be provided at intervals of no more 50 metres.
This means that people able to walk 50-100m are, in these guidelines, considered as disabled. People unable to walk 50metres may still struggle to access public places. This is because disabled parking bays may still be too far from the facility they serve, and because benches may be placed too far apart (e.g. if a person can walk 35m, but benches are 50m apart and/or the parking bay is 50 from the facility). People unable to walk 100m may struggle to access paths in the countryside. Under PIP, these people will not be considered disabled unless they also have difficulties with planning and following journeys. This is inconsistent with current provision for disabled people.
Action for ME said, “Mobility underpins every aspect of life, and if you can only move up to 50 m (regardless of whether that is unaided or with a stick) then you are unable to engage in society or manage daily activities without considerable help and alterations to daily life, all of which incur extra costs which will not be met by the standard mobility component.”
The British Disability Equality Forum said, “there is an assumption that all Disabled people with mobility impairments will have the use of a car … This assumption means that, for example, someone who “Can move up to 50 metres unaided but no further,” will score 8pts because “50 metres is considered to be the distance that an individual is required to be able to walk in order to achieve a basic level of independence such as the ability to get from a car park to the supermarket.” Yet 8pts will not pay for the Motability car that they would need to be walking from, to meet this assumption.” And “the 200m distance set, whilst it might ensure someone can walk around a supermarket, does not allow for them getting to and from the said shop. In the case of larger town centres car park can be significantly more than 200m from the relevant shops – especially fresh food shops; in most areas of the country most people don’t live within 200m of a bus stop and in rural areas the bus stops are likely to be substantially further away from an individual’s home. The Forum therefore wants to see some more consideration of the ‘gaps’ remaining for people to fall through.”
Disability Wales said, “Considering that people who can mobilise no further than 100 metres are awarded only 4 points, which could exclude them from any mobility payment, the scores are quite clearly much too low. People who can mobilize 100 metres without using a wheelchair, but who experience conditions such as fatigue, pain or breathlessness, may incur substantial extra costs. The scoring should reflect this.”
These are just three examples of responses to the second draft of the assessment criteria. A number of organisations recommended 100m as the threshold for enhanced-rate mobility. Many pointed out the numerous difficulties faced by those with limited mobility, including the fact that the real environment is rarely flat.
The overall impression from the responses is that the enhanced rate threshold should be at least 50m and preferably 100m. The small sum of money awarded to those unable to walk 50m coupled with their exclusion from the Motability scheme means that people with severe mobility restrictions will not be getting the support that they need to achieve a reasonable level of independence and access to society.
You can find more information on PIP and the 20m ruling from ‘Where’s the Benefit’ here.
The consultation document is available here.