This blog is read by people in a wide range of countries around the world and that is a true delight. Because of that, today it is necessary to explain something before I get into the meat of this post.
In the UK, benefits paid to people with disabilities, including those of us with multiple sclerosis as well as many other illnesses, are under attack like never before as the government seeks to make massive cuts in the whole welfare budget in order to help bring the annual deficit under control.
Two benefits are the main target as far as people like me are concerned. They are Incapacity Benefit which is being phased out and its recipients have instead been told to apply for Employment Support Allowance. Similarly, Disabled Living Allowance is ending and those of us who receive it are being invited to apply for the new Personal Independence Payment.
Having explained that, now onto the post.
The first one has almost been completed now and has involved all applicants going through what is called a Work Capability Assessment before being placed in either the ESA’s Work Related Activity Group or the Support Group, which basically means the Government accepts your disability prevents you from working. Not everyone who was on Incapacity Benefit, however, made it into the support group as they were, often incorrectly, assessed as being capable of work.
A large proportion of those turned down, by the private companies contracted to carry out the assessments, have been put into the support group after their appeal; others have not been so fortunate while some have, sadly, died through either not having enough income to live on – or suicide.
Transferring from DLA to PIP is similarly fraught with problems. Even people granted a ‘lifetime’ award of DLA are having to apply for PIP with no guarantee of success. You see, the goalposts have been moved. Let me give you just one example: Under DLA, one of the criteria for the mobility section was how far you were able to walk; the limit to get points towards obtaining the benefit was 50 metres. Under PIP, though, the same ability has a limit of just 20 metres.
It further needs to be explained that both DLA and PIP are made up of two sections: Care and Mobility, granted at different levels.
The top award for mobility can be used by the claimant for a Motability vehicle. This is a new car (or scooter or wheelchair), every three years that includes all servicing, insurance and other costs except fuel.
Some who were on the top rate of mobility on DLA and used it for a car, have not gained the same award under PIP and so have had the car taken away. Indeed, so far, a shocking 45% or nearly 14,000, of those assessed for PIP have lost their Motability vehicle as a result.
As you can no doubt imagine, many appeals are under way.