The regulations governing the mobility component of Personal Independence Payment are set to restrict access to the higher rate. This is being done partly by changing the distance used to test whether someone can walk from 50 metres to 20, and partly by removing dome key words (such as “reasonably”) from the regulations. The effect will also be to reduce access to Motability, the scheme for providing cars, because that depends on receiving the higher or “enhanced” rate.
I have been looking at current figures on the mobility component of DLA to get a sense of who might be affected. Currently 1800 people receive the higher rate for mobility needs. More than half the claims are due to arthritis, heart and cardiovascular issues, musculo-skeletal issues, and back pain; the change in rules will affect many of those claimants, perhaps most. By contrast, the change hardly affects the the half-million mainly lower-level claims for mobility related to psychosis, psychoneurosis and behavioural disorder. That’s the group which has most clearly increased in size in recent years, but their position is being maintained with the reform of DLA into PIP.
I’ve previously questioned whether PIP was going to make much difference in principle. This kind of rule change suggests that the government isn’t expecting much from the reform, either; the money they are hoping to save is set to come from medical reassessment and limiting access, rather than changing the target group or the rationale of the benefits.