Monday, 23 September 2013

PIP: MP's ignorance spreads misinformation

Disability News Service just reported that two influential Liberal Democrats have disputed the government's official impact assessment of the new disability benefit PIP (Personal Independence Payment) which is replacing DLA (Disability Living Allowance), saying DLA reform fears are exaggerated.

The impact assessment estimates that 600,000 disabled people will lose the benefit altogether.

But Lord German, the party’s work and pensions spokesman in the Lords is quoted to have said
My guess is we won’t see much difference in shape at the end of it. My suspicion is that it will be nothing like the numbers of changes that people are anticipating. I don’t think these estimates can in any way be made to be accurate.
Meanwhile Stephen Lloyd, Liberal Democrat MP, concentrated on the controversy surrounding the criteria for the mobility component of PIP, which I have already extensively covered on this blog.
In essence the original version of PIP had two major problems.

1) Being able to complete any given task “safely, reliably, repeatedly and in a reasonable time period” (SRRR) was only guidance and not set in the regulations themselves

2) The criteria to receive high rate mobility was changed from 50m to 20m without consultation

Disability campaigners were able to obtain the concession that SRRR should be in the regulations and not merely guidance.
Furthermore a new consultation took place regarding the change from 50m to 20m.

Stephen Lloyd is quoted to have been "furious" about the change from 50 to 20m which "came out of nowhere".
However he mistakenly believes that the SRRR concession means that people unable to walk 50m with SRRR would still receive high rate mobility and is quoted as saying that he
“cannot envisage” how a current DLA claimant could lose their Motability vehicle if they were able to walk up to 50 metres but could not meet the SRRR test.
“As a regulation, that will ensure that the vast majority of people who are entitled to a Motability car on the basis of mobility will keep their car.”
He is therefore also "furious" that disability campaigners are still asking that the mobility limit return to 50m.

When I read this article and the views of these two politicians I was literally speechless.

Lord German's "guess" is apparently of more certainty than the government's official impact assessment. Why this is, no one knows. But I am sure disabled people across the country will be heaving sighs of relief.
Personally I will await the publication of the extensive research he must have undertaken in order to make such an important claim affecting several million disabled people. I am assuming he HAS undertaken this research of course...

Stephen Lloyd's comments are even more worrying. This is an MP who votes on disability policy. Yet he is clearly uninformed.
I refer him to the government's own consultation and example 2, p10, of someone who fails to obtain high rate mobility. This person can walk 20m but cannot walk 50m SRRR. Contrary to what Stephen Lloyd blithely and blissfully believes, she is only entitled to standard rate mobility.
Sabeen is able to stand and move short distances unaided, usually between 30 and 40 metres. On a good day she can move as far as 50 metres but she can rarely ever go further than this because of severe breathlessness. She can, however, repeat shorter distances with a short break in between.

Assessment Result:
She can repeatedly walk distances of more than 20 metres but less than 50 metres. Aids or appliances do not help her to walk further in a reliable way, so the most appropriate descriptor is C. Based on this Sabeen would receive entitlement to the standard rate of the PIP Mobility component.
This is why disability groups are still campaigning.
Anyone who can walk 20m but cannot walk 50m SRRR will lose high rate mobility. Such people would be unable to leave the house without a wheelchair. If they are unable to self propel they will be electric wheelchair users. These are the people who, if the government does not change its mind, will be losing their benefit or their motability car.

And yes, Stephen Lloyd, I am "furious" about this.
And the fact that you are so ill informed that you are oblivious to our plight and spreading "comforting" misinformation makes me even more "furious".

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