Disability benefits: Lord Freud to ‘clarify’ assessment regulations

Lord David Fraud
Lord David Fraud

 

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28 January 2013 Last updated at 09:06

Ministers are clarifying how mobility disability assessments are carried out following criticism of changes to Personal Independence Payments.

Those unable to walk more than 20m would automatically qualify, rather than the previous distance of 50m.

But peers said the new regulations should include the requirement that tasks be done “reliably, safely, repeatedly and in a timely manner”.

Welfare Minister Lord Freud said he was looking “very actively” at the issue.

Lord Freud came under fire over the new system of Personal Independence Payments, which replaces Disability Living Allowance, during question time in the Lords.

Ministers say the new benefit will be targeted at those who need it most.

Legal challenge

Independent crossbench peer Lord Alton of Liverpool said the new regulations failed to include the phrase “reliably, safely, repeatedly and in a timely manner” – used as the criteria to decide whether people can carry out essential tasks such as walking and dressing.

Lord Alton said one third of disabled people lived in poverty and it was estimated 42% fewer people would be eligible for mobility allowance.

The revelation that some people “will have their specially adapted vehicles taken away from them or offered to them to buy” had caused “widespread disbelief and considerable distress”, he added.

Liberal Democrat Baroness Thomas of Winchester said:

“If these words were not made statutory in some way or another, the number of appeals would rocket so much and there would be such a period of uncertainty in so many ways for so many people that it is not worth not putting them in.”

Lord Freud said he recognised the strength of feeling and the government was “very actively” looking at putting the words into the regulations “in a way that works legally”.

He said he hoped to present peers with a “definitive” approach in a week’s time.

‘Inadequate discussion’

Crossbencher Baroness Grey-Thompson, a Paralympic gold medallist, hit out at a “lack of consultation” on the changes, stating that the 20m walking rule for eligibility for the enhanced rate of PIPs should have been included in consultation documents.

She told Lord Freud there was a “real risk that this is open to judicial review”.

Conservative Lord Sterling of Plaistow, chairman and co-founder of Motability – which provides more than 620,000 vehicles for disabled people – also criticised the proposals.

He warned: “There is concern amongst disabled people at the recent change from the 50m to the 20m as the distance specified in the regulations for high rate mobility (allowance).”

Lord Freud responded: “I have to accept that there was not adequate discussion on this and there is not adequate understanding, just from the concerns I am hearing today about this.”

The Department of Work and Pensions maintains it is making an out-dated benefit much clearer, and that broadly the same number of people will be entitled to extra mobility help.

A spokeswoman for the department said: “It is not a tightening of the rules – 50 metres has never been set out in legislation. We had strong feedback from our consultation that the criteria was unclear which is why we have now clarified the rules,” she said.

“In fact a greater proportion will get the higher rates for mobility under PIP compared to DLA, showing support is going to those who need it most.”

Change at-a-glance

  • About 3.2 million people receive Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
  • The payment of between £20.55 and £131.50 a week assists them in leading independent lives
  • The government hopes to save £2bn as a result of the switch from DLA to PIPs.

BBC NEWS

DLA to PIP: What’s in a clause? Sometimes quite a lot—as disabled claimants will find out when they are tested for new PIP benefits Posted on January 25, 2013

 

Comments
  • Humanity2012 January 28, 2013 at 12:49 pm

    Millions Need to Say Enough is Enough

  • Jane butt January 28, 2013 at 12:52 pm

    What about those that have elperlisay ..can walk but can’t control when they having a fit…like near traffic or public places…

  • cheryl January 28, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    This is digusting, i have lost all my benafits in 2012, I am now house bound, its to painfull to go to the shop,and if i did venture out to try and go to the shop, I have to wait for someone to call to my home, as it would take me over an hour because of the pain iam in. Since july 2012 gps have changed medication 5 or 6 times and they still havent found a drug that i can take with out making me more ill. In this time if my friend had not been with me i would surly be dead now as the gp was going to raise the amount of anatriptaline up to 100ml a day, if my friend hadent said “Your giving these for pain dr, my friend is on the highest dose of anti depressents all ready. Dr ” Oh i didnt realise that i was giving them for pain, cant these people read. I have lost faith in all medical people, i dont bileve any of them have the correct qualifacations, because if they did the would take on the government, and they would stand and tell the PM, where to go, sorry thats how i fee.

    • Sasson January 30, 2013 at 9:37 am

      Hi cheryl – how on earth are you managing; are you appealing at present? You really could do with a social services care assessment so that you can get practical help, and they also help you with benefits if it’s the first time. Although if you get benefits restored, you will have to pay some of them back for your care, the fact is that your specific needs are recorded in a professional way, and although it would never be easy to obtain disability benefits, these records can be submitted as evidence.

      For example, I employed a carer who also has a car. The maximum amount the LA would allow for petrol each week is £8. Although they’ve stopped funding that, I regard the £8 as value for money since my carer takes me to all appointments and shopping twice a week.

      I really do advise you to approach social services as soon as you can as it takes some months to set this up. I had to in the end. I hate the fact that I constantly have people here, but it’s actually helped me cope with my illness better psychologically and of course physically.

      All the best

      sassonx

  • Kelpiemare January 28, 2013 at 1:05 pm

    Note the phrase “……in a way that works legally…”. Interpretation? In a way that we can still screw you all over, but will ensure appeal doors are shut tight…. sTorytelling at an all time low.

  • DAVID SHAW January 28, 2013 at 2:13 pm

    This shows how stupid and ignorant fraud actually is. He knows nothing about any field in which this heinious government places him in , and continues to balls everything up on a regular basis. Why do we support the likes of him who consider us as stock and units, he should be out on his ass where he belongs. Equally he can take his Nazi ideology with him.

  • Carolyn Hucker January 29, 2013 at 10:51 am

    “A spokeswoman for the department said: “It is not a tightening of the rules – 50 metres has never been set out in legislation. We had strong feedback from our consultation that the criteria was unclear which is why we have now clarified the rules,” she said.” – That distance was specified in the application form. Aren’t those forms meant to be, effectively, legal documents? It does say that falsifying information on the form may constitute a criminal offence – doesn’t that cover the printed information on the form as well as information you add to it?

  • Carolyn Hucker January 29, 2013 at 11:26 am

    If you are concerned now about the attack on benefits by this government, you need to take a look at these links, best in this order. The first article is a bit long and complicated, but stick with it. It will make your hair stand on end. Read them, write to your MP, then send the articles to your friends and get them to write to their MPs.

    http://www.dpac.uk.net/2012/04/a-tale-of-two-models-disabled-people-vs-unum-atos-government-and-disability-charities-debbie-jolly/

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biopsychosocial_model

    http://www.compassonline.org.uk/news/item.asp?n=563&offset=20

    It’s very scary, very upsetting and very corrupt – Unum (the people who are advertising on UK TV for disability and illness insurance) have their fingers in this up to the neck. These changes might be ideological in some ways, but they have been driven by profit at heart.

    Sorry if this post is too long or off topic or something, I’m new at this posting lark.

  • GEOFF REYNOLDS January 29, 2013 at 2:36 pm

    The difference between me and lord fraud sounds similar. I HAVE A PHYSICAL IMPEDIMENT AND POSSESS A HEART AND SOUL….
    HE HAS NO IMPEDIMENT AND IS AN ARSEHOLE…

  • Linda January 30, 2013 at 2:58 pm

    I was turned down for low rate mobility because they said i could walk in a strange place without supervision. I can’t. If i fall, i cannot get up. Believe me, they made it up as they went along and twisted round everything i said. Whatever, i still cannot, will not set foot outside my house without transport.

  • jeffery davies January 30, 2013 at 5:10 pm

    nah ids wants it all for his mates who award themselves vast amount of bonuses like emmas 8.6million oright for some jeff3

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