DEADLINE 5 August 2013
The United Kingdom has a range of benefits available to those with disability. These benefits are all granted on the basis of specific tests. In my first ever blog about disability benefits in the UK I spoke of “fair assessment” – the UK Government constantly repeats that it is seeking to create a “fair Society” – so let me outline a major unfairness that may soon be perpetrated on many of those currently eligible for the mobility component of a benefit called Disability Living Allowance (DLA).
At the moment, the mobility component of Disability Living Allowance assesses those virtually unable to walk by looking at how far they can walk outdoors and how quickly they can walk, including rests and stops, until pain or discomfort (breathlessness, fatigue, dizziness etc) starts. There is no fixed qualifying distance in this DLA assessment, but someone is less likely to qualify if they can walk more than 50 metres without severe discomfort. There are exceptions to this for those who are only able to walk very slowly or need to stop and rest for long periods or have poor balance and are likely to have falls.
50 meters is roughly the distance from a carpark to a supermarket… its two lengths of a regular swimming pool … half the length of a football field.
Can you imagine being only able to walk 50 metres without discomfort?
DLA, and other benefits, are being succeeded by a new benefit, called the Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
the present Government thinks that anyone who can walk 50 metres but no further without discomfort etc., has no need of financial support with their mobility needs and under the new draft PIP assessment, the walking component has a very specific distance test, known as the “20 metre rule”.
What is this 20 metre rule? The Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC) briefing provides an excellent explanation, including:
“The PIP criteria state that only those who, ‘Can stand and then move more than 1 metre but no more than 20 metres, either aided or unaided’ will qualify for the enhanced rate of the mobility component…Individuals must be able to complete the distance safely, to an acceptable standard, repeatedly and in a reasonable time period, but can use aids such as walking sticks, crutches and prostheses.”
20 metres… less than one length of a regular swimming pool, less than the distance to a supermarket from a disabled parking bay, the distance someone walking at normal pace will cover in 12 seconds or so. It is no distance at all.
The reduction of the mobility walking test distance from 50 metres to 20 metres is a swingeing change and will make a very big difference to a lot of people’s lives – the loss of supporting income for those who are genuinely entitled to it will directly curtail the ability of many to get out and about, to participate in society, to contribute to their communities. Being housebound is horrible – being deprived of the company of others leads to isolation and unnecessary feelings of worthlessness, vulnerability and self-doubt.
Please please take time to read the DBC Briefing
And then consider sending an email to the Department of Work and Pensions at this email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
This is the template drafted by Parkinson’s UK for you to use and/or tailor to fit your own concerns:
Dear Department of Work and Pensions
Many thousands of people with Parkinson’s rely on high rate mobility payments for getting around as their mobility gets worse.
If the Government restricts enhanced PIP mobility payments to only those who can walk 20 metres and no further, it is clear that many people with Parkinson’s will lose out.
By the Department’s own admission 50 metres is considered to be the distance that an individual is required to be able to walk to achieve a basic level of independence, such as the ability to get from a car park to a supermarket.
The Government should be helping people with Parkinson’s maintain their independence rather than confining them to their homes.
I would like the Department to introduce fairer criteria that enables someone with difficulties walking up to 50 metres to get the enhanced rate of mobility PIP.
Thank you for reading!
“Campaigning for Fair Disability Assessment”