Court proceedings will begin in Birmingham today to determine whether the Government’s decision to change the eligibility criteria for the disability benefit Personal Independence Payment (PIP) was unlawful.
At the end of 2012 the DWP announced, with no consultation, that the distance people would need to walk in order to qualify for the highest rate of the mobility part of the benefit would change from 50 metres, to just 20 metres.
Now, if disabled people can walk more than 20 metres – even using aids such as sticks – they will no longer qualify for the highest rate of the benefit.
The change could mean a loss of over £33 a week or access to a Motability vehicle, electric wheelchair or mobility scooter – which many use to get to work, college or medical appointments. Government projections show that over half a million people are set to lose out under the new rules.
The Disability Benefits Consortium – a coalition of more than 50 UK charities campaigning for a fairer welfare system – has branded the change “life shattering” for disabled people.
Following public pressure, and the start of this judicial review, the Government consulted on the eligibility change last summer; out of more than 1,100 responses received, only five were in favour of the new criteria. Despite this, proceedings have continued and disabled people in certain parts of the UK are to be called, or have already been called, for assessments using the new test.