A fictional town appeared outside Parliament on Wednesday where 9,400 people with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) were trapped inside their own homes because the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) 20-metre rule.
The MS Society say at lease 9,400 MS sufferers are refused the highest level of PIP support because they are able to walk more than 20-metres. Once PIP is fully rolled-out, a further 6,400 people with MS could be affected by the “senseless and arbitrary rule”, the charity warns.
Under the 20-meter rule, those who can walk just one step over 20-metres fail to qualify for the highest level of mobility support, as campaigners warn this is resulting in people losing their independence and becoming trapped in their homes.
Campaigners from the MS Society delivered a petition, signed by 36,041 people, to Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey, calling on her to scrap the 20-metre rule.
PIP is replacing Disability Living Allowance as part of wide-spread changes to the welfare system, with disabled people and those with chronic health conditions among the hardest hit.
John, one of the people trapped in ‘PIPville’ today, said: “Under DLA I had a Motability car which I used to get to hospital appointments, continue with my charity work and basically live a normal life.
“Using public transport just isn’t an option for me so the car is my lifeline to independence. I can’t walk a few steps without pain and I’d need a taxi just to get to my nearest bus stop.
“After being transferred to PIP I lost the higher rate of mobility and was no longer allowed to keep my car. The DWP decided I could walk more than 20 metres but less than 50 metres, but at my assessment I was seated during the whole interview. I was never asked to demonstrate how far I can walk, and had my mobility scooter next to me.
“The 20 metre rule doesn’t make any sense and it’s failing people with MS.”
MS Society Director of External Affairs, Genevieve Edwards, said: “The Government says PIP is meant to support those with the greatest needs and that the 20-metre rule is the most effective way of identifying people with the most limited mobility.
“Yet no evidence has been provided for using 20 metres and they have never explained why they think that people who can walk just 21 metres can live independently with much less support.
“PIP is failing people with MS. Having MS is hard enough; it shouldn’t be made harder by a senseless and arbitrary rule. More than 36,000 people agree – the 20-metre rule needs to go.”