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PIP proposals would restrict transport options for thousands

Added: 14 January 2013 | Updated: 15 January 2013

Following a significant change to Government criteria for eligibility to the enhanced mobility component of Personal Independence Payments (PIP), thousands of disabled people will no longer be eligible for help with personal transport. The Minister for Disabled People announced in December 2012 that to qualify for this new benefit, people with a physical impairment will now have to show that they are unable to walk further than 20 metres instead of the previous proposal of 50 metres.

Personal Independence Payments (PIP) will be introduced to replace Disability Living Allowance (DLA) from April 2013. DLA is a weekly payment divided into sections for care and mobility to assist disabled people to live independently. Existing recipients of DLA will not now be transferred to PIP until October 2015 but new claimants will start to receive the new benefit from this April. In the current timetable, all DLA claimants will move to PIP by 2018.

Disabled people who currently receive the higher rate mobility component of DLA also qualify for a Motability vehicle. With thousands of disabled people set to lose this benefit under the new refulations for the higher rate of PIP, Motability cars would also be withdrawn, dramatically reducing disabled people’s ability to get around independently. It is estimated that 160,000 people would lose their car when PIP is fully rolled out, affecting their ability to get to work, attend education classes, go shopping and visit friends and family.

We Are Spartacus, a group of disabled people lobbying for a fair and responsible welfare system for disabled people, have uncovered that of the 173 responses to the consultation on the PIP criteria, only one suggested that the qualifying distance for those who have the most difficulty getting around should perhaps be changed.

With so many disabled people now faced with this real threat of losing their Motability car, it is more important than ever that the public transport system is ready for greater numbers of disabled passengers. If disabled people cannot access transport and no longer have their own vehicle they are very likely to become isolated in their homes or much more reliant on other people.

The change to PIP may also affect their ability to apply for concessionary travel benefits such as Taxicard and Blue Badge, where receipt of higher rate DLA is a criterion for eligibility.