Improving Disability Benefits
With four full-time benefits advisors, Disability Law Service helps over 2,000 disabled people with welfare benefits issues every year and has a detailed understanding of the challenges faced by disabled people.
We support calls for the Government to increase benefits by 6% from April 2022 due to the cost of living crisis.
The Disability Benefits Consortium, of which DLS is a member, and over 30 other organisations – including the Child Poverty Action Group, The Trussell Trust, and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation – has published a joint letter calling on the Government to increase benefits by 6% in line with current inflation, instead of the 3.1% planned.
Read more here.
In Summer 2021, the Government announced an open consultation on “Shaping future support: the health and disability green paper”. The consultation asked for views on how to improve disability benefits and medical assessments.
We submitted a response to the consultation which you can read here
We also contributed to the Disability Benefits Consortium consultation response which you can read here
Our key recommendations included:
Amending PIP mobility descriptors
- We would like to see the ‘moving around’ activity descriptors amended so that the extent of people’s mobility impairments is properly reflected in the points they are awarded. Claimants should get 12 points and be entitled to the enhanced mobility component if they cannot walk more than 50 metres, either aided or unaided.
- We would like to see the ‘planning and following a journey’ descriptors amended so that they take account of people not being able to go on journeys due to fear of incontinence and / or fear of falling over.
Increase the length of PIP awards for people with degenerative, incurable or chronic conditions
- People with degenerative and life-long conditions should be given ongoing PIP awards subject to any change of circumstances.
- If people with degenerative and lifelong conditions have to be reassessed, a letter from their doctor should be requested, instead of the client having to fill in a review form again.
Pay people whilst they are waiting for the outcome of their PIP appeal hearing
- Whilst people are waiting for the outcome of a mandatory reconsideration and / or appeal, they should be paid the rate of PIP or DLA they were receiving before the decision they are challenging.
- This should be non-repayable (like income related ESA appeals or Scotland’s Short Term Assistance Model).
Increase access to Motability vehicles
- Anyone who used to get Motability and is challenging the decision not to award them enhanced mobility, should be able to keep using Motability scheme for 18 months to ensure they do not lose their Motability vehicle before the appeal hearing.
- The Motability scheme should be available to people on standard mobility PIP or low mobility DLA.
- Consider opening up Motability to any disabled person, this could be time limited to 18 months to give them time to apply for disability benefits.
- Anyone who qualifies for a Blue Badge should be able to access the Motability Scheme
- Consider funding the Motability scheme independently of PIP, via an additional Motability Allowance
Towards the end of 2020, we held a forum with some of our Disabled clients and identified the following recommendations for policy reform:
- Open up access to Motability vehicles to allow more disabled people to use them
- Increase the length of PIP awards for people with degenerative and incurable conditions
- Pay people whilst they are waiting for the outcome of their PIP appeal hearing
Our clients Daniel and Sam would really benefit from these changes:
Daniel, a psychologist, has sickle cell and does not qualify for the Motability scheme. The severe pain he experiences makes it very difficult to travel which has prevented him from finding work.
He said, “Access to the Motability scheme would enable me to work. Why does the penny-pinching around a basic right to be able to move around stand in the way of me making use of my talents as a psychologist so as to contribute towards society?”
Daniel’s condition is incurable but he was given a time limited award and asked to do a PIP review where he had to go through the whole process of applying again.
He said, “It was very stressful to go through the PIP form again, it brings negative feelings back about how my illness is only going to get worse.”
Our client Sam has Multiple Sclerosis and got into a lot of debt whilst appealing her PIP decision, a process that took two years. Her appeal succeeded and she was awarded enhanced daily living and enhanced mobility. She was able to use the enhanced mobility component of PIP to access a Motability powered wheelchair.
Sam said, “The judge at my PIP appeal tribunal went bright red when they saw me and was furious that I had not been awarded the enhanced rate of PIP. The judge said it was inappropriate to fix a term for my PIP award as, ‘we all know you cannot get better, only worse’.”