The previous disability tests meant claimants could claim if they could not walk 50 metres, but this has now been reduced to 20 metres with the new guidelines.
The change from disability living allowance (DLA) to PIP began to take place this week in northern England, and will gradually be rolled out nationally.
Three disabled claimaints are taking legal action against the government, and the new measures taken to test claimants’ abilities.
Their representatives say official consultation period did not mention new PIP mobility limit reduced from 50 to 20 metres. This change will result in an estimated 51,000 people being ineligible for benefits.
Kim Storr, one of the claimants taking legal action, current;y receives DLA including mobility allowance as she relies on crutches as she has rheumatoid arthritis and other severe progressive conditions; her mobility is affected by joint swelling and pain. She needs an adapted vehicle to enable her to go out independently.
Steven Sumpter,also taking legal action, receives DLA, and has the higher rate of the mobility component as he leases a Motability car. He suffers from ME which causes him increasing mobility problems, which means he can walk short distances with a stick, but is otherwise dependent on a wheelchair.
Rosa Curling, a solicitor with Leigh Day who is representing two of the disabled clients, said:
People were not properly informed that the limit might be reduced to 20 metres and had no opportunity to provide … their views on this proposal.
Removing this vital benefit to disabled people will have a devastating effect on many people’s lives and their ability to access and be part of our communities.
The secretary of state has a legal obligation to consider such impacts before deciding whether to limit access to this benefit.
The governments own estimates show that a up to 428,000 claimants could end up losing eligibility with the changed to mobility benefits in PIP.
In a separate announcement defending PIP, Iain Duncan Smith said the changes were ‘common sense’:
70% of people on it have lifetime awards which means no one sees you ever again. It doesn’t matter if you get better or your condition worsens – it’s quite ridiculous.
We’ve seen a rise in the runup to PIP. And you know why? They know PIP has a health check. They want to get in early, get ahead of it.
Chief executive of disability charity Scope, Richard Hawkes, says the reform to disability benefits is flawed:
In 2013 disabled people are struggling to make ends meet. Life costs more if you’re disabled.
But this year living costs are spiralling and income is flat-lining. Disabled people are getting into debt to pay for essentials.
What’s the Government’s response? It is cutting a financial life-line for disabled people, which helps them meet the extra costs of day-to-day living when you are disabled.
The reform is fundamentally flawed.