Thursday 13 December 2012

PIP, a mobile disaster



Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is being replaced by a new benefit called Personal Independent Payment (PIP). Surrounded in controversy, the government has said it aims to save 20% expenditure and it is expected that 330,000 disabled people will lose their benefit entirely by October 2015 and 607,000 by May 2018 ( see DWP impact assessment Dec 13 2012).

DLA is an essential benefit. Paid to both working and non working people it helps cover the extra costs of disability. It comes in two components. One covers mobility and is paid to people who have trouble getting around and the other covers personal care. Each has different rates to allow for differing levels of need.

The mobility component is particularly important as it can be used in the Motability scheme whereby instead of receiving cash the disabled person can lease a car for 3 years. This is vital for people who need larger or adapted cars for their wheelchairs or disability equipment, which can be costly. The scheme may also be used to lease electric wheelchairs which are not always provided on the NHS and can also be prohibitively expensive.

The mobility component comes in 2 rates and only the higher is eligible for the Motability scheme. The same will be true for PIP, with a standard and enhanced rate.

The problem is that the goalposts have been moved and the criteria to qualify for the enhanced rate severely restricted.

From now on the only people who will qualify for the enhanced rate are those who can "stand and move" less than 20m (around 60 feet). This includes with the use of aids such as a prosthetic, crutches or a walking stick.
Anyone who can move further than this distance will only qualify for the standard rate, even if they then need to use a wheelchair for longer distances.
Furthermore, anyone who can "stand and move" more than 50m becomes ineligible for the benefit completely.

This is a huge change and far more strict than before. The various qualifying distances for ESA and DLA are 50 and 100m, not 20 and 50m.
20m is a very short distance indeed:

A bendy bus is roughly 20m long...

20m does not get me from my front door to the garage...


To give you an idea of what this might mean, take someone who is able to walk with a walking stick around their house and from their front door to the road or garage (eg as above) to their car but would have to use a wheelchair once they arrived at their destination.
At the moment they would get high rate DLA. They would qualify for Motability and could get an adapted car.
Under PIP they only get standard rate as they can "move" more than 20m. They lose Motability and their adapted car.

It is expected that at least 480,000 people will lose their entitlement to high rate DLA of which an estimated 100,000 are reliant on Motability. Remember that these are disabled people with high mobility impairments deemed under DLA "virtually unable to walk".

See Jane Young's excellent blog for more details.

The Reasoning and issues:

The reasoning behind this is strange to say the least.

  • 20 metres is considered to be the distance that a claimant is required to be able to walk in order to achieve a basic level of independence in the home such as the ability to move between rooms. 
  • 50 metres is considered to be the distance that a claimant is required to be able to walk in order to achieve a basic level of independence such as the ability to get from a car park to the supermarket.  
  • 50 to 200 metres is considered to be the distance that a claimant is required to be able to walk in order to achieve a higher level of independence such as the ability to get around a small supermarket.  
The 20-50m case:

If a disabled person can walk from 20 up to 50 metres they are deemed not to need enhanced benefit because they have "a basic level of independence". This is characterised as the ability to walk from a car park to a supermarket.

We now enter the realm of Kafka.
Since the disabled person receives standard benefit, they are no longer eligible for Motability and may no longer HAVE a car in the first place. If they can only walk 50m it is unlikely they will be able to use public transport.
Having proudly walked "independently" 50m to the supermarket from the car park, one wonders what they are to do next. One also wonders how on earth they are going to get back.

If they need assistance or a wheelchair at this point, then quite frankly they should be getting enhanced mobility benefit. It is ludicrous to say otherwise. The cost of the car, wheelchair or help in this scenario easily justifies it.

The 50-200m case:

Someone who is only able to walk 50 to 200m gets nothing at all despite this entire distance being necessary to get around the supermarket. This begs the question of how they get to and from the supermarket if their entire "walking allowance" is used up shopping there.

I strongly feel instead that these people should qualify for the standard rate to enable them to get to and from the shop, since they are by definition unable to walk there. This will help them afford a taxi, car or mobility scooter.

No opportunity to discuss

The government has run two consultations on their criteria. The mobility criteria were harshly criticised and felt to be far too strict. However far from being improved, they have actually been made worse.
While the cut off distance was simply 50m in the draft, it is now 20 and 50m, which will disallow far more people. Furthermore the government has indicated that it will not now accept any further changes and is determined to press ahead as it is. This is clearly wrong since they have introduced with no warning a major change with no opportunity for discussion.

In summary:

I felt that even a 50m cut off was prohibitively strict. But what we have here is a disaster and will ruin people's lives and independence. We WILL see seriously mobility impaired people losing their benefits and their cars, including wheelchair users if they have the temerity to be able to walk tiny distances.
This activity needs to be looked at again, and soon.


If you want to ACT, please go to this blog which will tell you how to contact your MP with good ideas of how to drive the message home. This needs to be done so soon as time is running out with Parliament breaking up by Friday Dec 21st.

EDIT: I originally said the reasoning was "strange". Upon further reflection I have come to the conclusion that a decision has been made that the only people who will get enhanced mobility are those who cannot walk outside AT ALL however short a distance.

This is an incredibly harsh criteria. Many people can walk very short distances. This is why we have blue badge spaces. They may not be able to walk further than that and may need a wheelchair if further away or for longer trips. These people will face very high costs, many will rely on cars for transport, and will face poverty or being housebound with the removal of high rate DLA.

My story:

This is a subject close to my heart. 10 years ago, with a deteriorating muscle condition, I started putting money aside from my mobility DLA, and, when the time came, bought a good electric wheelchair. Thanks to this I was able to continue with my PhD without fuss or interruption and later get a good job.
Under these new PIP regulations I would not have qualified for enhanced mobility and would not have been able to afford my wheelchair. I would have been housebound and would never have been able to accomplish what I did.


  1. Brilliant blog and a truly horrifying picture of just how idiotic, short sighted and illogical this idea is

  2. I've worked through the criteria, and have surprised myself a little. I currently receive the minimum DLA for care. Under the PIP I don't actually qualify for anything, but I do get 4 points for mobility. I have a blue badge at the moment, and I qualify because my dexterity is shot, I struggle with change for parking meters etc. I've resigned myself to losing my benefit, but I really don't want to lose my blue badge. I suspect I'm not the only one.

  3. Dare not not look into whether I might (not) gut anything - I'm totally overwhelmed by everything.

    Great Post regardless Sarah xx

  4. very scary... im registered blind .. I can walk a reasonable distance BUT cant see well enough to get round shops alone...I get DLA at lower rate because i need guidence when out and about... looks like i wont get any help now... its particularly galling becauseI use my DLA to get me to hospital for my psychiatric therapy.. dont know how im going to get there if I loose my money..

  5. Thanks for an incredibly clear break-down of the different criteria. I have to say I am sickened beyond belief at what they have done, or should I say I am actually sick with it. I have this enormous knot in my stomach about how my life is going to be effected and I have a safety net. I live with an incredibly supportive partner, who is fit and healthy and earns enough that losing this benefit to our household will not put us in dire financial straits. However, it does mean that if I want to go out I will need to ask him for the money to do so. My nearest bus stop is more than 100m and even with a rollator I would struggle to get there and go on a journey and walk at the other end of my journey. Basically buses are out. I need to get taxis. Locally I can use my scooter - which was paid for out of DLA so when it breaks down I will have to ask my partner to pay for it. Essentially I will become even more dependent on him for any kind of life at all. It's not enough that he pays for everything and does all the cooking, shopping, cleaning, laundry etc. He now has to pay even more to "keep" me. What if my partner wasn't so supportive? What if he was resentful? What if didn't earn very much? What if he wasn't employed or in good health? What if I didn't have a partner at all? It is terrifying for me, I can't imagine how petrifying it is for anyone else who isn't lucky enough to be in the situation I'm in. Looks like we are going to see a lot fewer disabled people on the streets and a lot less disabled parking bays being used.

  6. Why do I keep reading about cutting benefits and getting people back to work? Some can't work and need support not cutting adrift. Some of us do work and DLA is an enabling benefit to help. This propped up nasty Tory party is bringing in disabling PIP, that's joined up thinking isn't it!

  7. How many extra GPs are going to be needed for all the extra home visits? Will patients simply be left to rot and allowed to die of hunger, neglect behind George's "closed curtains" if they live alone and cannot attend the surgery, or buy food?
    WHY are no human rights lawyers getting involved ? Why are GPs and Consultants so silent?
    WHEN will the disabled sporting stars so beloved of the CONDems this summer speak out about how this will personally affect them and get some media coverage???

  8. According to these criteria, I will lose all my Mobility. I can usually hobble around my home (although half the time I have to use my wheelchair indoors). I use a self-propelled wheelchair any and every time I'm outdoors. Because of this I will have to drop out of my MA (which I'm doing part-time over 2 years because I have fibromyalgia and ME) and voluntary work. I will be housebound. When I graduate I will not be able to work because I will be housebound. My DLA is up for renewal next year anyway, so I'll be one of the first. And I believe the South West contracts have been awarded to Atos.

  9. I still love the picture attached to FibroGirl's Blog ( ) showing the length of the chamber of the House of Commons all of 20m and note the figure bottom left of the picture! I wonder if she would vote for these changes?

  10. catmint-1984, I can't be certain, but it sounds like you would qualify for standard mobility at the very least.
    As for enhanced, a lot is going to depend on how strictly the rules are interpreted. I believe the criteria do include "guidelines" on repeatedly and safely for instance. However the government has not seen fit to include these in the actual criteria and so these are not legally binding and will be up to interpretation.

  11. I am housebound. Have FMS & other less severe issues plus had spinal fusion 6 months ago that I am very slow to recover from. I can drive, I have a privately owned, manual, unadapted, vehicle, but had not been able to drive for almost a year because of my back - drove a short distance (10 minute drive, son had to drive home later) for the first time last week.

    I only found out I could apply for DLA last year despite being diagnosed >7 years ago and having been unemployable because of "mystery illnesses" for a dozen years. It's been granted at higher rate mobility until April 2013, I expect to still get it then but to lose it as soon as PiP comes in and I get reassessed under new rules (assuming the rules come in after April 2013, of course).

    So I have not applied for a motability vehicle even though an adapted one would be so much easier for me to deal with and might even mean I could go places without needing someone with me to drive home again in case I can't manage the manual vehicle - a bout of metatarsalgia after last week's effort left me bedbound again, because an increase in pain levels from "new" health problems almost always causes a fibro flare up, leaving me with full on flu symptoms (whole body aches, can't move without help, can't eat etc & a 2-3 day migraine as a bonus).

    Tesco is a 3 minute drive away, but I could not walk there now - ten years ago I did all of my shopping on foot, carrying a backpack (despite the undiagnosed symptoms, I just tried to power through and then wondered why the hell I was always so ill), now I can't even walk between the pharmacy and the supermarket in the same "retail park" I have to drive the short distance from one and try to find a parking bay near the doors of the other shop. Oh, and Tesco kindly moved their entrance not long after building the place and putting in the car park, marking the Disabled Bays etc thus moving the door further from those bays. It in now >40m to the nearest disabled parking slot from the front door.

    It is 20m from the disabled slot in my GP Surgery's car park to their front door. It is 20m from my bed to my lounge room, not taking into account the stairs that I have to manage. I can get off a bus at the bus station in the nearest city (no idea how I'd get on the bus, but bear with me) but 20m wouldn't even get me away from the row of bus stops or out of the station area.

    I have already written to my MP (Tessa Munt - LieDem) with detailed information but I honestly do not expect her to reply, I haven't even had an acknowledgement of receipt, I never do. Oddly, my husband always gets a written reply whenever he writes to her on any subject - maybe I'll get him to redraft it and send it as well!

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