Spartacus’s Ben Furner writes:
We’re gearing up for the latest stage in our campaign to challenge the Government’s plans on PIP– there’s a number of moves afoot in the Lords next week which we’re hoping to plug in to.
One current focus is looking at the impact of the change to the qualifying distance for the higher rate mobility component – this change means that if you can walk more than 20 metres you won’t qualify for the higher rate, which gives access to the Motability scheme.
We’re looking for real life case studies of disabled people concerned about the change; this includes people who may be able to walk short distances who will be directly affected, as well as people who might not be directly affected (such as full time permanent wheelchair users) but who are nonetheless concerned about the new criteria.
If this is something you’re willing to be involved in, and in particular if you’d be willing to talk about it publicly (for example, by talking to journalists) then we’d really like to hear from you.
I am coordinating this bit of work, so if you’re up for it please do get in touch directly firstname.lastname@example.org
THE Government sneaked through a last minute change and toughened up walking criteria.
THOUSANDS of disabled people will lose benefits after the Government sneaked through a last-minute change to the rules, campaigners warned yesterday.
Tougher criteria to assess how far people can walk unaided mean that many claimants will no longer qualify for help with transport.
Paralympics medallist and disabled campaigner Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson warned that the change will lead to disabled people being “ghettoised and excluded from society”.
From April, Disability Living Allowance is being replaced by Personal Independence Payment (PIP).
To qualify for the higher rate of PIP, claimants have to be unable to walk for 20m unaided. Previously, the distance was 50m.
Those who don’t qualify for the higher rate will not be eligible to lease cars under the Motability scheme.
Campaign group We Are Spartacus discovered the changes buried in the Welfare Reform Bill.
A spokesman said: “We were stunned to see that to be awarded the enhanced mobility component for physical difficulty getting around, and therefore to qualify for Motability, a claimant needs to be unable to walk more than 20m – a far shorter distance than the 50m given in the consultation draft.”
Disability rights campaigners estimate that 428,000 fewer working-age disabled people would qualifying for the higher PIP rate by 2018.
Jane Young, who helped write a Spartacus report analysing the changes, said: “This not only condemns thousands more disabled people to the worry of losing out under the new benefit and the isolation this will bring – it also highlights the lie that the Government’s reforms are targeted to support those in need.”
Grey-Thompson added: “We need some kind of measurement but all the way through the Welfare Reform Bill, it was being talked about as 50m.
“This raises fears for lots of disabled people. If they lose this quite small level of support that helps them get about, it will ghettoise them.”
Labour shadow disability minister Anne McGuire said: “The criteria of 20m appeared to come out of the blue.”
The Department for Work and Pensions claim that after the change, the number of people receiving the enhanced rate of the mobility component will be broadly the same.
An offical said: “The intention of the criteria remains the same – to make sure support is targeted at those who need it most.”
PETER Leckie believes the new walking rule to assess disability is “totally unfair”.
He said: “Twenty metres is a random figure for most people. I could probably walk 20m today – but what about tomorrow or in a month?
“So many people with conditions which affect their mobility have good days and not so good days.”
Peter, 59, who served with the Royal Artillery from 1971 to 1977, was left with nerve damage following a neck operation.
He said: “I worked for 41 years after leaving school at 15 in 1968, right up until 2009.
“I had never been on benefits in my life.
“But I have a spinal injury which causes me severe pain.”
Peter, of Sandyhills, Glasgow, added: “The politicians say they do not want another generation on benefits and that is obviously a good idea.
“But people who are medically unfit and have real problems are being targeted.
“I am sure this latest change is the first step to abandoning disabled benefits altogether.”