Action on PIP 20m rule

Have you been affected by the 20m rule in PIP?  Lost your higher rate mobility in a transfer from DLA to PIP? Lost your motability vehicle?

Has this affected your ability to leave your home to get to places, and take part in community, volunteering or work? Do you think your mobility needs were unfairly assessed in a PIP assessment?

Thanks to a recent House of Lords motion by Baronness Thomas of Winchester, there’s a chance to make the government rethink the notorious “20 metre” rule for qualifying for the Enhanced Rate Mobility component of Personal Independence Payments (PIP).

We need case studies of people affected by this 20m rule for DWP officials* to examine its fairness and its impact on people’s lives. Please note, you must be willing to disclose your National Insurance number, so that details of your case can be looked into. Please write to Baronness Thomas at thomascm@parliament.uk

The 20m rule, not included in the original consultation on PIP, restricts eligibility for the mobility component for people with severe walking difficulties from the previous 50m benchmark used in DLA down to 20m.

There is no evidence that people who can walk more than 20m but less than 50m face lower costs for mobility and transport than those who cannot walk 20m. This aspect of PIP means disabled people who would have qualified for the Higher Rate mobility component under DLA lose £33.25 per week or access to their Motability vehicle.

The House of Lords motion – April 2016

Baroness Thomas of Winchester: to move to resolve that this House calls on Her Majesty’s Government to hold urgent talks with Disability Rights UK and the Disability Benefits Consortium to identify a mobility criterion in the Personal Independence Payment “moving around” assessment which is fairer than the current 20 metre distance, in the light of the impact on reassessed disabled claimants and the resulting large number of successful appeals.

Please write to Baronness Thomas, with details of your case and your NI number if you can help, at thomascm@parliament.uk

Thanks, from the Spartacus team.

*Update 18.06.16 Apologies for the previous error in the post, which read “Dept of Health” officials.

 

Spartacus responds to PIP spending cuts

Earlier this year the Spartacus Network published Crippling Choices, a response to the government’s consultation on Personal Independence Payments. The report rejected all its proposed changes to the way aids and appliances are scored in PIP.

Out of 281 responses to the DWP’s consultation, only 11 were in favour of the changes.

But the government has gone ahead with its proposals anyway. The changes will mean that over 600,000 people who need help with dressing and using the bathroom will lose a portion or all of their benefit. Spending on PIP will have been slashed by £1.2 billion by 2020.

Although the mainstream media has reported the cuts to PIP, few have sought to challenge the DWP’s justification for the changes to the scoring of aids and appliances. The consultation claimed that the kinds of equipment that assists people in some activities like dressing and bathing are low cost and easily available and therefore shouldn’t be covered by a PIP award.

Emma Nock, co-author of Crippling Choices says reports of the PIP cuts miss a crucial point:

“The PIP assessment covers a small number of activities which act as a proxy for all the difficulties a disabled person may be facing. This is why it was so important to maintain the points scored for the use of aids and appliances. A person who needs an aid to dress themselves or use the toilet is not restricted in those activities only. For example, a person who needs to sit down while dressing likely has balance, mobility or strength issues that limit their capacity to engage in other household activities. They may struggle to lift a load of wet laundry out of the washing machine or to move around the kitchen while cooking and cleaning up afterwards. Neither of these activities are considered in the PIP assessment.

Again, the person who needs an aid to toilet effectively may be needing a support to stand up. They would also be unable to lift a load of wet laundry, if they can’t lift their own bodyweight without help. I would suspect they may also have difficulties using a vacuum cleaner, another activity that is not assessed in PIP. Alternatively, perhaps the person is using a long-handled aid to wipe themselves? Even with the aid, this person has limited mobility which may mean they are not able to wipe themselves effectively, meaning they have to change and wash their clothes frequently, leading to higher laundry bills. This person probably also can’t change a light-bulb, and so if they don’t have family nearby or friendly neighbours, will have to pay for someone to change the light-bulb for them.

These are just a few, small examples of where difficulties in the assessed activity demonstrate difficulties in unassessed areas of life. This is how PIP was set up to work, and so to reduce the points awarded for the assessed activities without giving new consideration to the unassessed activities is flawed.

The initial review commissioned by the DWP said only that PIP “may not be working as planned” and should be looked into, not that PIP was definitely not working or definitely did need tightening. The subsequent small-scale study by the DWP has not been published (an FoI request revealed it had not been written up into a report; the only information available on it is the otherwise unsupported conclusion given in the DWP’s consultation document) and has been challenged by disability researchers.

In a survey conducted by SpartacusNetwork, many additional cost and difficulties were identified by respondents as being likely to be present for the two illustrative examples given by DWP. This strongly suggests that the DWP’s belief that the use of these aids indicates minimal extra costs is incorrect. The aid may be cheap, or already present in the house. That isn’t the point. The point is that the person needs an aid in that activity, and that activity was chosen as representing other areas where difficulty is experienced. The person’s bed doesn’t follow them around to be ready whenever they are undertaking an activity that requires them to sit down or have somewhere safe to fall.”

Crippling Choices

Spartacus Network report rejects the government’s proposed changes to PIP

 

Read the report and send it to your MP

Thank you to everyone who responded to our survey. We asked what your thoughts were about the Government’s proposed changes to the way the use of aids and appliances are scored in PIP assessments. You almost unanimously rejected all of the DWP’s 5 options, each of which would substantially reduce eligibility to PIP for disabled people who need aids and appliances in their daily life and deny them the vital support to live with dignity and choice.
Crippling Choices argues that the use of aids and appliances was introduced to PIP assessments as evidence of functional limitations, not for covering the cost of specific aids or appliances, therefore the DWP’s issue of whether an aid is low cost or commonly used is irrelevant.
Needing to use an aid or appliance in at least four out of ten selective activities of daily living demonstrates an overall functional limitation that causes significant costs. The DWP should not be seeking to reduce the pay-out to people who qualify in this manner.
PIP has been deliberately designed to rely on ten specific activities as a proxy for all areas of disability-related cost (except for getting around outside the home). Some people with significant costs in areas not assessed by PIP may only qualify for PIP on the aids and appliances rules; it is vital to keep these in in order to ensure that they continue to act as a proxy measure for these other areas.
The report also criticises the quality of the government’s consultation on PIP reform to aids and appliances. Among other failings, it argues that the DWP has not provided any adequate or robust evidence that people receiving PIP on the basis of aids and appliances do not have any further costs. The DWP cites a review, but does not provide copies of this review. This is a major failing as respondents cannot comment on the adequacy of the methods used and the interpretation of the results.

Hold the government to account

In 2010 the Coalition Government promised that:
“Personal Independence Payment will remain an extra-costs benefit, providing cash support and allowing disabled people to spend the benefit in the way which best meets their individual needs.”
DWP Disability Living Allowance reform December 2010
We must hold the current government to account on PIP. The replacement of DLA with PIP was already controversial for its planned 20% cut in expenditure and for reducing support to people with substantial mobility difficulties via the “20metre rule”. Now, after only two years of partial take up there is a suggestion of reform to further reduce eligibility and expenditure and to undermine the personal budget principles it was designed on.
Please write to your MP. Use this blog post as a letter template, add your own concerns and send them a copy of the Crippling Choices report
Thank you.

PIP eligibility cut? Have your say

Personal Independence Payments Aids and Appliances consultation – take the Spartacus survey

The government has launched a consultation to change the way in which aids and appliances are considered in PIP.

All the options that DWP is asking us to consider involve reducing the numbers of people eligible for PIP and for passported benefits like Carers Allowance.

In its consultation document the DWP suggests scoring system should be changed for using aids or appliances that are low in cost and commonly used.

Here is the example they give of a person who currently scores points for needing aids and appliances, but who should not be awarded any points because he has few or no ongoing costs:

61 year old man with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. He cannot stand for long due to fatigue and breathlessness. He can help his wife prepare food, providing he sits down. He sits on a seat in the shower and holds the sink for support when using the toilet. He also sits to get dressed, which takes a long time due to breathlessness, and wears easy to pull on clothes. Low daily living extra costs reflect one-off costs for aids such as a perching stool. He already has a shower seat and grab rail, as his wife needs them, and other aids are unlikely to be of much benefit.

Do you agree?

Please tell us what you think about the proposed changes to the way aids and appliances are considered in PIP through this survey. The survey will close on Friday 8th January.

More information on the proposed changes

Currently, the need to use an aid or appliance to manage an activity in the Daily Living component receives two points. As the Standard Rate requires eight points, a person can receive PIP Daily Living by needing aids and appliances on four of the ten activities.

The government is concerned that 35% of people awarded PIP Daily Living receive it solely on the basis of the need for aids and appliances in four or more areas. The government considers that in many cases points are inappropriately awarded for items that are low cost, common in all households or only used out of choice rather than necessity.

The DWP give five possible options for change, which are as follows:

1 A lump sum paid to claimants who score all their daily living points from aids and appliances. This could be discretionary and its use limited through the use of vouchers. The awards could be periodic, in order to cover the cost of replacing aids or appliances. It would not passport to other benefits or premiums and would not exempt claimants from the benefits cap. Claimants scoring at least some points from other descriptors would be paid at the relevant weekly rate, as now.

2 A lower monthly payment for claimants who score all their daily living points from aids and appliances. It would not passport to other benefits or premiums and would not exempt claimants from the benefits cap. Claimants scoring at least some points from other descriptors would be paid at the relevant weekly rate, as now.

3 A new condition of entitlement that claimants must score some points from a descriptor that does not relate to aids and appliances. Claimants scoring at least some points from other descriptors would be paid at the relevant weekly rate, as now.

4 A change to the definition of aids and appliances to exclude any that the DWP does not consider are a good indicator of additional cost and need. Claimants who use aids and appliances that are a good indicator of extra costs would be paid at the relevant weekly rate, as now.

5 Halving the number of points that can be scored for the use of aids or appliances from 2 to 1 for some or all daily living activities.

Here’s the link to our survey  https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/5JVQG7Y