The percentage of claimants with degenerative physical conditions who get awards of enhanced rate personal independence payment (PIP) mobility has fallen by up to two thirds when compared with disability living allowance (DLA), the BBC has revealed.
The BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show has obtained the startling figures using the Freedom of Information act.
Originally posted on Britain Isn’t Eating: http://www.benefitsandwork.co.uk/news/3579-higher-rate-mobility-awards-for-physical-health-plummet-under-pip
DAVID Trotter, who lost his car after cruel cuts saw his vital mobility payment slashed, saw his benefits reinstated after winning an appeal against the DWP
A DISABLED man has won his appeal against cruel benefits cuts that left him stranded without a car.
David Trotter – who has multiple sclerosis (MS) – lost his vehicle when a vital mobility payment was slashed by officials.
The 32-year-old, who needs crutches to walk, was told he was fit enough to take a bus from his home in Dalkeith, Midlothian, to his job 15 miles away in Livingston.
But David has had his payments reinstated after winning an appeal last week.
It came after the Record highlighted the IT worker’s case against the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in May.
David Trotter needs his car to travel the 15 mile journey to work, but says he will have to quit his job after the Department for Work and Pensions removed his “enhanced mobility” allowance
A disabled man who relies on his car for work says he is being forced to leave his job after his benefits were slashed.
IT worker David Trotter has suffered with multiple sclerosis for 11 years and needs crutches to walk.
He needs his car, which is financed through benefits, to travel to his job 15 miles away, but after the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) declared he is fit enough to take the bus he says he will have to quit his job.
He said the DWP removed his “enhanced mobility” payment of more than £200 a month, which means that 32-year-old David has no way to travel to his job in Livingston.
He told the Daily Record : “The thing that is getting me most is that the woman asked how far I could walk without any pain. I told her that it was 10 steps before the pain kicks in, even on a good day. That makes public transport inaccessible because of walking to and from the bus. But somehow their verdict says I can walk between 20 and 50 metres. I’ve asked them to revisit it. The appeal will take nine weeks but the DWP say the car will be collected before then.”
From 28 October, where a claimant is investigated by the DWP as a result of a false accusation of fraud, they will automatically lose their DLA and be forced to make a claim for PIP, even if found to be entirely innocent. The new DWP policy is legally questionable and is likely to cause enormous distress to claimants, whilst rewarding hate-callers.
The change in DWP policy has come about because of the roll-out of PIP to existing claimants which begins at the end of this month.
According to PIP regulations, after 28 October if ‘a DLA entitled person . . . notifies the Secretary of State of a change of circumstances’ they will be ‘invited’ to claim PIP instead.
In other words, if you are getting DLA and you inform the DWP that your condition is getting better or worse, then you will be assessed for PIP rather than for DLA.
In March of this year the DWP published a PIP toolkit which included a number of factsheets about the PIP claims process. Included in factsheet 6 was confirmation of how changes of circumstances would be treated:
From October 2013, DWP will start to write to the following existing DLA claimants, inviting them to claim PIP. The invitation will explain how to make a claim, and the time limits for making a claim:
• claimants who choose to claim PIP (selfselectors) can do so from this date
• those DLA claimants who report a change in their care or mobility needs will be invited to claim PIP
However, in September the wording of the second bullet point was changed, so that it now states that amongst those who will be invited to claim PIP will be:
• those claimants where we receive information that there has been a change in their care or mobility needs
So, it appears it will not just be where the claimant themselves inform the DWP of a change of circumstances that they will be assessed for PIP, as the law requires.
Instead, where someone else, including a malicious neighbour or relative using the anonymous National Benefit Fraud Hotline, reports that the claimant is no longer in need of help with care or mobility, the claimant will still lose their DLA and be assessed for PIP instead.
This approach appears to be confirmed by a poster on Rightsnet who explained:
“At our local JC+/customer/representative forum meeting last week a DWP partner support manager brought the following change of wording to the attention of the meeting (second bullet point on page one of link)
“In his words anyone who was ‘bubbled’ (shopped) would be taken as if they were a ‘self selector’ in the DLA/PIP reassessments.”
The decision about whether the claimant has been committing fraud must still be based on the DLA criteria.
But even if it is decided that there has been absolutely no change in their condition and they are the victim of a misguided or deliberately malicious informant, the claimant will still lose their DLA and have to claim PIP instead.
It will undoubtedly be cheaper and more convenient for the DWP to assess claimants for PIP at the same time as they are investigating them for DLA fraud. It saves coming back and looking at their claim again at the proper time.
However, we know that large numbers of people are likely to lose out under the transfer from DLA to PIP, including some people with mobility problems and some people who need supervision because of serious mental health conditions. Being assessed early for PIP, in some cases possibly by three or more years, will therefore be a serious blow.
That, simply for administrative convenience, the DWP are prepared to inflict this blow and in the process collude with hate-filled anonymous callers, says a great deal about the way that claimants are now viewed by the state.
Benefits and Work have made a Freedom of Information request to try to uncover what guidance has been issued on how to treat DLA claimants accused of fraud after 28th October.
From ‘Benefits and Work’, 22nd October 2013: http://www.benefitsandwork.co.uk/news/2416-claimants-to-lose-dla-permanently-if-falsely-accused-of-fraud-dwp-decides?utm_source=iContact&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Benefits%20and%20Work&utm_content=23+October+2013+newsletter
Following the recent rushed consultation on personal independence payment (PIP) mobility component, the DWP has today confirmed that it is not prepared to make any changes to the 20 metre limit for eligibility for enhanced rate mobility. The news will come as a bitter blow to the many thousands of disabled claimants likely to lose their higher rate mobility component payments or Motability vehicle as a result.
The government was forced to run a consultation on PIP mobility after disabled claimants began court action to challenge the sudden and unannounced change in the eligibility criteria, following the initial consultation on PIP.
The second consultation ran from 24 June to 5 August and received 1,142 responses. It appears that these responses were almost universally hostile to the reduction in the qualifying distance. According to the DWP response to the consultation document:
• Respondents felt that there was no evidence to support the use of 20 metres as the distance for determining entitlement to the enhanced rate of the mobility component. Many respondents felt that there was little evidence to show that an individual who could walk a little over 20 metres would face lower costs than an individual who could walk less than 20 metres. Respondents pointed out that other Government policies use 50 metres as a measure for mobility.
• Respondents were concerned that the current 20 metres distance used in the criteria would have negative consequences for individuals. Many respondents were concerned about the impact on people moving from the higher rate of DLA to the standard rate of PIP who would lose access to a Motability scheme car. They felt this could increase isolation and reduce independence, have significant financial impact, and cause deterioration in their physical and mental health.
• Respondents felt the criteria would increase individuals’ need for support from other public services and that this would have an increased cost for the Government.
• Respondents welcomed the inclusion in Regulations of the reliability criteria, which are used to measure a person’s ability to complete an activity safely, to an acceptable standard, repeatedly and within reasonable time period. However, they wanted to ensure that these were delivered appropriately and consistently in the PIP assessment.
In spite of this, the DWP have decided that:
“Whilst the 50 metre distance is used to measure mobility in other Government policies, it does not mean that it is the right distance for use in determining entitlement to the enhanced rate of the Mobility component. Government is entitled to use different criteria for different purposes and it is important that decisions on PIP criteria are based on an objective consideration of the policy intent for the benefit.
“We recognise that people who are unable to reliably walk more than 50 metres have restricted mobility and independence, to a level that makes it reasonable to offer some support from the Government. This is achieved through the assessment criteria as set out in Regulations which award the standard rate to those who cannot reliably walk between 20 and 50 metres.”
“Having considered all these factors, the Government believes that the use of 20 metres is the best way of identifying those whose physical mobility is most limited. We think it is justified to focus support in this way given the policy intent to target support on those with the greatest need and create a more financially sustainable benefit.”
Like every other benefits consultation before it, the PIP mobility consultation has proved to be a sham exercise which ultimately took absolutely no account of the views of those who took part in it. Whether this pointless exercise will be sufficient to head off legal action already begun by claimants, and paused to allow this exercise to take place, remains to be seen.
But there can be no doubt now that when current DLA claimants with time-limited awards begin to be assessed for PIP at the end of this month, they will be facing a far harsher assessment of their mobility needs than in the past.
From ‘Benefits and Work’, 21st October 2013: http://www.benefitsandwork.co.uk/news/2414-dwp-today-confirms-harsh-20-metre-limit-for-pip-enhanced-mobility