Last week the government announced it will change the way in which the mobility component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP) benefit is assessed for future claims in relation to ‘planning and following journeys’.
A Department for Work & Pensions’ (DWP) ministerial announcement said that recent legal judgements have changed PIP in ways that are different to what was originally intended, and they are seeking to reverse these judgements. One such judgement was a ruling that decided that the PIP system should reflect the impact that mental health conditions can have on someone’s ability to go out.
The Trust is concerned about both the direct implications of this particular ruling and the precedent set by reversing such judicial rulings without proper consultation or scrutiny.
Mental health and mobility
Cystic fibrosis is a condition that has both physical and mental health implications and the two can often be closely linked, both having a significant impact on a person’s mobility. This is reflected in the fact that many CF specialist centres have a psychologist as an integral part of the multidisciplinary care they offer. Medical evidence from psychologists has been vital in supporting people with cystic fibrosis to accurately describe and manage the impact their mental health challenges have on their daily lives and mobility when applying for PIP.
Disability Benefits Consortium
The Trust is a member of the Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC), a coalition of 80 charitable organisations. In a statement on its website, Rob Holland (DBC’s Parliamentary Co-Chair) said: “We are concerned by these changes to the criteria for PIP. Other changes have already had a devastating impact on thousands and in far too many cases people have had to rely on tribunals to access the support they need.
“We are deeply disappointed as a coalition of over 80 organisations representing disabled people that we were not consulted about these proposals and their potential impact. The Government must ensure the views of disabled people are properly considered before they proceed with these changes.”
What this means
These changes affect claims made after 16 March 2017, so anyone in receipt of PIP already should not see a change in their current payments. Awards are regularly reviewed by the DWP.
What the Trust is doing
Sangeeta Enright, Welfare and Rights Advisor at the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, said: “Claiming PIP can be challenging and the restrictive criteria can be very difficult for people with variable and invisible conditions. It's vitally important that both the mental and physical health challenges a condition like CF can bring are recognised in the PIP criteria. We're concerned this change could affect people with CF who also have mental health conditions, but we are here to provide personalised advice through our helpline.
“The Trust will continue to campaign alongside the DBC to ensure the rights of people with cystic fibrosis are protected and enhanced in the welfare system and we are actively engaged with the DWP in consultation on a range of welfare issues.”
If you are concerned about what these changes could mean for you or wish to seek further advice around your PIP claim please speak to your cystic fibrosis social worker or contact our helpline on 0300 373 1000 or e-mail email@example.com.
Find out more about applying for PIP.