You may have seen in the press recently that the High Court have ruled that changes made to PIP in march 2017 were “blatantly discriminatory”. So what changes were they talking about? Well in March 2017 the Government made amendments to the legislation of PIP, stating that:
in the activity “planning and following journeys” in Part 3 of the Schedule (mobility
activities), the effects of psychological distress are not relevant to descriptors c, d or f (planning or
following the route of a journey).
So the Government decided that psychological distress was not relevant to take into account when assessing planning or following a journey for people with disabilities. This is blatantly discriminatory against people with mental ill health as I’m sure many of us know, when living with mental ill health it can be extremely hard, overwhelming and distressing – sometimes near impossible to plan/follow the route of a journey.. depression, anxiety, OCD, any mental health issues can be incredibly overwhelming and life changing and the Government (and therefore PIP assessments) did not take this into account when assessing people for PIP.
THE GOOD NEWS..
On the 21st of December 2017 the High Court ruled that these changes to PIP were “blatantly discriminatory” against people with mental health conditions.
Mark Atkinson, Chief Executive at disability charity Scope, said:
“Today’s judgement is immensely significant for the thousands of disabled people affected by the misconceived changes to PIP earlier this year.
“The regulations introduced in March make crude and unfair distinctions between those with physical impairments and mental health conditions.
“Thousands of disabled people rely on PIP to live independently and help meet the often substantial extra costs they face related to their condition or impairment.
“The Government must listen carefully to today’s ruling and act quickly to reverse these changes, rather than further dragging the issue through the courts.”
Tracey Lazard, CEO of Inclusion London said:
“This is a hugely important case. It challenges the discriminatory way the government treats Disabled people with mental health support needs. The outcome can make a difference to thousands upon thousands of Disabled people. We have always believed that these changes are discriminatory and unfair and should have never been introduced. It is incomprehensible that the government pledges more support for people with mental health support needs and at the same time introduces, through the back door regulation changes that prevent many thousands of Disabled people with mental health support needs from qualifying for this essential benefit.
The government’s actions to change PIP regulations and single out people who cannot travel because of psychological distress are a brutal attack on the rights of Disabled people. Today’s case illustrates the lack of concern for Disabled people and the government’s inability to listen to us and engage with us. It is extremely worrying that many of us feel the legal action is the only way for us to get heard”.
In the past few hours there has been more said on the matter, the BBC have said:
A total of 1.6 million of the main disability benefit claims will be reviewed, with around 220,000 people expected to receive more money.
It comes after the DWP decided not to challenge a court ruling that said changes to PIP were unfair to people with mental health conditions.
The review could cost £3.7bn by 2023.
Read more here: BBC PIP RULING ARTICLE
So as we await to hear what the Government are going to do, how they’re going to get in touch with people and when exactly they will do it by we hope that this marks the start of changes to PIP and the way disabled people are treated by this Government.
I will keep you up to date when we know more.