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The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) are facing further criticism following the release of yet another shocking statistic. In an answer to a written question it was revealed that 52% of claimants moved from Disability Allowance (DLA) to Personal Independence Payment (PIP) have had the high rate element of mobility removed. That means that since 2013, over half a million disabled people have had their reward either downgraded or removed altogether.
It’s no secret that the Tories flagship disabled benefit Personal Independence Payment (PIP) has been causing issues for disabled people.
The benefit introduced in 2013 by then Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, was supposed to make things better for those living with a disability.
However, since its inception it has been dogged with problems and scandals. Numerous shocking stories have been written outlining PIP’s assessment system is unfit for purpose.
I am myself a PIP claimant who was moved from the legacy Disability Living Allowance (DLA). I fell foul of the misleading application process myself.
The application form asks for details of all your healthcare professionals. It is implied they will be contacted for evidence to support your claim but, this is not the case.
The private companies conducting the health assessments actually have a policy NOT to contact them. It is made clear that it is the claimant responsibility to provide evidence, even at their own cost.
This is perhaps why over 70% of PIP decisions are overturned by Social Security Tribunals.
Loss of Mobility
Jamie Stone the MP for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, submitted a written question on May 20th asking;
“what proportion of claimants have had their mobility payments (a) reduced and (b) stopped when transferring from disability living allowance to personal independence payment.”
In an unusually quick response, Minister for Disabled People, Justin Tomlinson replied on May 23rd with the statistics.
As can be seen in the table above, of the 1.1 million claimants moved to PIP since 2013, 39% lost their mobility component completely. On top of this, 13% had their mobility award reduced. This means they lost the highest rate as, on Personal Independence Payment, there are only two levels of mobility compared to the three on DLA.
The effect of losing the highest rate can be catastrophic as it is this element that allows for claimants to swap their benefit payment for an adapted Motability car.
Being a wheelchair user myself, I rely on Motability for my independence. Adaptions costs thousands, unless you’re extremely well off, you’d be without a car.
Yes of course there is public transport but, how does a wheelchair user take a weekly shop home on a bus or train? I couldn’t take my children to nursery or visit anyone if I lost my mobility element.
Government Now Decide Who’s Disabled
We now live in a country where it is a medically untrained civil servant who decides you are disabled and not your own doctor.
Disabled people have had a value attached to them by the government. No longer are we human, we are a number. In the lottery that is the welfare system you really don’t know what the outcome will be.
For example, I have complex neurological and mental health conditions. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) are happy to let an occupational therapist or a physiotherapist assess my daily living needs.
These professionals do play an important part in a disabled persons care but, being in charge of deciding how disabled they are is not one of them.
Head in the Sand Tactics
Professor Philip Alston just released his full report on extreme poverty in the UK and Northern Ireland and like the five UN reports before, it is damning of the government’s treatment of disabled people.
Yet this report, like the others have already been attacked by the Tories. Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd has even announced she is complaining to the United Nations about Prof Alston’s report.
This is no surprise, she said the same thing following Alston’s initial findings in November.
The current government are guilty of burying their heads in the sand and pretending like everything is okay. No government is perfect, criticism should be welcomed so things can be improved. That however, is not the Tory way.
Until there is a change of government, and I mean the Tories are out of it, disabled people are going to continue to suffer a cruel, degrading and hostile system.