One of the most frightening threats to disabled people’s independence following the government’s welfare reforms has been the introduction of much tougher criteria for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) for those who have physical difficulties walking.
The previous benefit, Disability Living Allowance (DLA) used a measure of 50 metres to decide whether people had severe difficulties walking and therefore needed the highest levels of support. This distance has now been changed to just 20 metres. People who struggle after 20 metres are therefore less likely to receive the benefit payments they need.
On Wednesday 9 July, the High Court in Birmingham will hear a legal challenge to the government’s rules.
The court case centres on disabled people being given no opportunity to provide their views on the 20 metre rule until summer 2013 once PIP had already been introduced.
The government then announced it was sticking with the rule despite overwhelming objections.
The government’s projections reveal that staggering numbers of disabled people who currently receive the highest rate mobility payments of DLA – 548,000 – will lose those payments when reassessed for PIP.
The Disability Benefits Consortium believes that the loss of these payments will have a devastating effect on many people’s lives and their ability to access and be part of their community.
The extra costs of getting out and about for those who have severe mobility problems can be huge.
Our Thunderclap is a way of highlighting the injustice of the rule and supporting those taking their case to the courts. We wish them every success.