Sunday, 4 August 2013

DWP Consultation on PIP assessment - Moving Around activity

This is my response to the DWP's consultation on the Moving Around activity - specifically with regard to their plan to not automatically award Enhanced Rate to people who can only walk from 21 - 50m, with or without mobility aids.

It's not amazing, but I want it to be in public so the DWP can't try and claim no one was clearly against the distance reduction. 

Someone who can only walk 21-50 metres with a mobility aid does not have enough mobility to not need considerable support to live a full and independent life. The very use of a mobility aid often makes doing some things harder. I walk with crutches – automatically this means I can’t carry more than a very small amount of shopping, for example. Whilst they mean I can walk further than I could unaided, they also create an access barrier. On balance I find them worth that inconvenience, but that barrier is still very real, with real consequences.

Given access to schemes such as Motability are based on receiving higher rate DLA, and then Enhanced Rate PIP, people who have a small amount of mobility will be severely impeded by losing access to those schemes.

The DWP itself has estimated some 90,000 people will lose their Motability eligibility – which includes the hire of powerchairs, so that really is causing people to lose their means of mobility.

Many people can’t drive precisely because of their impairment. If public transport is inaccessible to people because of distance to stops / stations, or not being able to get on trains or tubes, or buses causing pain or nausea or sensory overload, the only alternative is to take taxis. Taxis are expensive, so without access to adequate benefit payment – which Enhanced PIP would provide – taxi journeys would be out of of reach for people on Standard Rate.

If people need to use taxis to get around £20 won’t pay for more than 2 or 3 cab journeys, if you’re lucky. Which will see people who need to travel having to decide between which to travel to - GP, hospital appointments, adult education, the Jobcentre, voluntary work, - heaven forefend disabled people should want a social life and to see friends or family!

21-50 metres is not far enough to get to many bus stops, or from one’s front door to a local corner shop, or between benches on a high street.

To get to work many people – including disabled people – need to get from public transport to their place of work. For how many people is this less than 50m? I suspect not many. For me, it’s a 180m walk. Taxis can’t get to all workplaces so Access to Work isn’t necessarily going to be able to meet people’s transport assistance needs.

Supermarkets are bigger than a 21-50m walk to get around. Bus stops near supermarkets tend to be more than 20m away from the front door. The assumption that everyone has access to a car to get them to a supermarket is deeply flawed.

Many disabled people need to have shopping delivered. The cumulative delivery costs of shopping online for the bulk of one’s needs shouldn’t be a burden on disabled people. The point of benefits like DLA / PIP is to mitigate these extra costs. If it is only a small sum, there’s no way it’ll stretch to meet all of these extra costs. Someone with mobility as restricted as only being able to walk up to 50m is likely to also have trouble standing for extended periods – problems queuing are difficult to mitigate. Problems carrying shopping means often having to rely on other people to carry things for you – which if someone lacks support of people who can do this, means needing to pay people to do this.

Being unable to walk less than 50m even with an aid, should qualify someone automatically for Enhanced Rate PIP.

I will go further. Being unable to manage 100m should continue to be the distance at which it is considered someone’s mobility is considerably impaired. That is far enough to hobble to a corner shop & back, over to a post box & back, or from a bus stop to a shopping centre’s wheelchair hire office. Being effectively tied to one’s house by a piece of string 50m long (because you have to get there AND BACK) is incredibly restrictive. If that piece of string is cut down to 10m, that’s only to the garden gate. That is cruel, and is going to further restrict disabled people who are already living lives restricted by pain, fatigue and immobility.

There is a choice now with PIP. Choose to enable people living with impairments, or to further disable those people. A government that actively creates policies that worsen the lives of disabled people is inhumane and cruel.

I also want to add when I responded to the PIP criteria before, 20 metres distance was nowhere to be seen – this late addition consultation should never have been needed. Again, this adds a burden to disabled people, requiring us to repeatedly consult.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for all points. Well done. Im frightened that after ten years of Higher rate mobility allowance I will be abandoned and trapped at home.

Anonymous said...

Someone should shoot IDS in the foot then ask him how far he can walk without pain!!!!