PIP 20 metre trio win first round of court battle


theweeksubThree disabled people have won the first round of a legal battle with the government over its decision to tighten eligibility for the new mobility benefit.

The high court has granted the trio permission for a full judicial review of the decision to introduce more stringent criteria for the new personal independence payment (PIP) for people with the highest mobility needs.

All three of the claimants currently claim the higher rate of the mobility component of DLA, but fear they will lose their right to claim the equivalent higher rate of PIP.

The government’s own figures show that 428,000 fewer people will be able to claim the PIP enhanced mobility rate by 2018 than would have been able to claim the DLA equivalent.

Under DLA, a person is entitled to the higher rate if they are “unable or virtually unable to walk”.

Claimants are usually considered to be “virtually unable to walk” if they cannot walk more than around 50 metres, but the alterations to the regulations – which were suddenly announced in December without any consultation – saw the key PIP mobility criteria reduced from 50 to 20 metres.

The regulations state that claimants who can move more than 20 metres can still receive the higher rate, if they cannot do so “safely, reliably, repeatedly and in a reasonable time period”.

But Jane Young, an independent consultant who coordinates We Are Spartacus, the online network of disabled campaigners which provided much of the impetus for the legal action, said that 20 metres was “an extremely short distance”.

She said: “Our concern is that by denying people with significant walking difficulties support for independent mobility, the regulations will seriously compromise their well-being.

“Disabled people who can only walk short distances face being stuck in their homes, isolated and unable to travel independently to health appointments, to work, to the shops or to social activities.

“This is especially the case in rural areas, where public transport is infrequent, inadequate and inaccessible and long travel distances are the norm.”

Karen Ashton, from Public Law Solicitors, who is representing one of the three disabled claimants, said: “I am very pleased that the court has found that this case deserves a full hearing.

“The higher rate of mobility benefit can make an extraordinary difference to a disabled person’s life.

“But the government failed to mention the reduction to 20 metres in their consultations and so those who might be affected did not have the chance to put their case and explain how devastating the consequences will be.”

The full hearing is set to take place in July.

8 May 2013