Government in court

Court proceedings will begin in today to determine whether the Government’s decision to change the eligibility criteria for the disability benefit Personal Independence Payment (PIP) was unlawful.

At the end of 2012 the Department for Work and Pensions announced it was changing the distance people would need to walk in order to qualify for the highest rate of the mobility part of the benefit from 50 metres, to 20 metres.

Now, if people can walk more than 20 metres – even using a stick – they will no longer qualify for the highest rate of the benefit.

Half a million set to lose out

The change could mean a loss of over £35 a week or access to a Motability vehicle, electric wheelchair or mobility scooter. The Government has said they expect over half a million people are likely to lose the benefit under the new rules.

Over the last year the MS Society has been at the forefront of campaigning against this change, either independently, or as part of the Disability Benefits Consortium.

When the government consulted on the change last year (following public pressure) only five out of 1,100 responses were in favour of shortening the distance. Despite this, government plans have continued.

Court case

Legal teams will argue in court today that the government failed to carry out a fair consultation before making their decision to change the assessment criteria for PIP.

It’s hoped that the court case will find the decision unlawful. If it is, this doesn’t mean the government has to change the criteria, but we certainly hope it prompts them to reconsider.

Claire Nurden, Co-Chair of the Disability Benefits Consortium and Senior Policy and Campaigns Officer at the MS Society, said:

“We have already seen how the Government have failed to listen to concerns about the introduction of PIP, resulting in major delays and devastating impacts on the lives of disabled people. This is yet another example of how grave concerns have been ignored and will have life-shattering results."

Take action

Tell us about your experiences of claiming PIP or ESA, and support the challenge to the 20m rule.

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