In response to the recent delay in the national implementation of the move from Disability Living Allowance (DLA) to Personal Independence Payments (PIPs) for disabled people in the UK, Dave Webber, Livability Chief Executive, said:
“While we understand that welfare reform was justified in order to simplify the systems and make them more relevant to the needs of disabled people, we have always believed that the introduction of Personal Independence Payments (PIPs) was a flawed solution.
We remain concerned that the main reason for this reform was to cut cost and that it will have a negative and long lasting impact on the lives and independence of many disabled people in the UK.
The fact that the timeline for implementation is now on its 4th revision could be regarded an indication that this reform was pushed through too hurriedly and poorly planned and this risks eroding further disabled people’s confidence in the reform.
We would urge Government to use the delay in the national roll-out of PIPs as an opportunity to reflect on the real concerns that disabled people and disability charities are raising and to make the reform and the assessment criteria fairer.
Livability is particularly concerned by the Government’s refusal to reconsider the 20 metre rule as a means to assess a disabled person’s mobility, as we believe it to be arbitrary and crude.
If we restrict a disabled person’s ability to travel independently because they are not able to afford the sort of transport they might require, then we are excluding them from society as a whole. Affordable, accessible transport routinely arises as one of the key concerns / needs amongst Livability’s service users.
More broadly there have been some real concerns as to how the assessments for PIPs are undertaken by a company that has a poor reputation with disabled people for conducting the work capability assessments. We want to see tight scrutiny of their performance and also reassurance that they will focus on delivering a fair assessment based on the needs and welfare of disabled people, rather than cost-cutting targets.
Also, estimates show that under the new system up to 600,000 disabled people who currently receive DLA would not qualify for financial support under PIPs rules, although they will be no less disabled. What will happen to them? We need to make sure that they do not end up facing poverty and social exclusion. If Government wants to see some of these claimants moved to benefits that are dependent on them actively seeking work, then we also need to put in place the additional support that they would need to successfully enter the workplace. Some of Livability’s more able service users would not qualify under the new assessment rules, although we know that they need our support and care to be able to lead an independent, fulfilling life.
Finally we feel that in general disabled people’s views have been neglected by the Government throughout the process and we urge Government to listen to and act upon their feedback and concerns when shaping their future welfare reforms.”