Why mobility payments really matter
8 July 2014
by Rosanna Singler
Today an important court case is beginning on the Personal Independence Payment (PIP).
Steven Sumpter is one of a group of people who are fighting the government’s decision to change the way that people are tested for this payment. They argue that the government did not consult properly on this change and did not consider the devastating effect the change would have on disabled people.
PIP is a new payment which helps some of the extra costs caused by long-term ill health or a disability. Previously, if you could walk 50 metres or less you would receive the highest amount possible for the ‘mobility component’ of the payment, to help pay for things like taxis or powered wheelchairs. Under PIP, the test has got tougher: if you can walk more than 20 metres then you will only get a lower rate.
Like Steven, we are desperately concerned about the impact of this new measure. We successfully campaigned to keep the old mobility component for people living in residential care. We argued that people living in homes with care still need money to travel, just like people living elsewhere. What are people who can only walk 30 or 40 metres meant to do when they lose this money? Most people will no more be able to get to shops, public transport or the high street if they can walk 40 metres than if they can walk 20.
And importantly, you have to be on the higher rate if you want to rent a car, motorised scooter or powered wheelchair through Motability. For many disabled people this is a lifeline as their condition means they are unable to use buses and trains.
I recently spoke to someone who told me that without her car she would be permanently housebound, with no means of getting out. She said her life wouldn’t be worth living.
Some people have told us they would not be able to make it to vital hospital and doctor’s appointments without this money Others are worried that losing their Motability car would mean having to give up their jobs, which contradicts the focus on getting disabled people into work.
The court case against the government’s changes to PIP begins on 9 July and is expected to last two days, with a decision at a later date. We will be watching the result of this court case closely. If it rules in favour of Steven and the other claimants it could mean the government has to rethink the new test, meaning that hundreds of thousands of disabled people will not have to lose the vital support they need to live independently.
Rosanna Singler is Leonard Cheshire Disability’s policy officer.