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Following a court victory by claimants just last month, the government is rushing in an urgent change to the law to prevent many people with mental health conditions being awarded the mobility component of personal independence payment (PIP).

The change reverses the recent ruling by a panel of three judges and means that people with mental health conditions such as severe anxiety who can go outdoors, even if they need to have someone with them, are much less likely to get an award of even the standard rate of the PIP mobility component.

Panel of upper tribunal judges
As we explained just a few weeks ago, for years we’ve been advising members that DWP guidance about ‘Planning and following a journey’ was wrong and was leading to incorrect assessments by health professionals and errors of law by decision makers.

The disagreement over interpretation was finally decided by a panel of three upper tribunal judges last month

The DWP continued to argue that anyone with a mental health condition who was ever able to go outdoors, even with someone with them, should score only 4 points and receive no award at all on that basis.

But the tribunal held that claimants with conditions such as severe anxiety can qualify even for the enhanced rate of the mobility component, just on the basis of problems with ‘Planning and following a journey’, or ‘Going out’ as the PIP form terms it.

New regulations
Rather than try to fight the case any further, the government have resorted to a change in the regulations, which doesn’t require any kind of debate or vote in parliament.

From 16 March the law will be changed so that the words “For reasons other than psychological distress” will be added to the start of descriptors c, d and f in relation to “Planning and following journeys”.

Current descriptors
The descriptors currently read:

a. Can plan and follow the route of a journey unaided. 0 points.

b. Needs prompting to be able to undertake any journey to avoid overwhelming psychological distress to the claimant. 4 points.

c. Cannot plan the route of a journey. 8 points.

d. Cannot follow the route of an unfamiliar journey without another person, assistance dog or orientation aid. 10 points.

e. Cannot undertake any journey because it would cause overwhelming psychological distress to the claimant. 10 points.

f. Cannot follow the route of a familiar journey without another person, an assistance dog or an orientation aid. 12 points.

New descriptors
The new descriptors will read (changes in bold by us):

a. Can plan and follow the route of a journey unaided. 0 points.

b. Needs prompting to be able to undertake any journey to avoid overwhelming psychological distress to the claimant. 4 points.

c. For reasons other than psychological distress, cannot plan the route of a journey. 8 points.

d. For reasons other than psychological distress, cannot follow the route of an unfamiliar journey without another person, assistance dog or orientation aid. 10 points.

e. Cannot undertake any journey because it would cause overwhelming psychological distress to the claimant. 10 points.

f. For reasons other than psychological distress, cannot follow the route of a familiar journey without another person, an assistance dog or an orientation aid. 12 points.

The effect will be that people who are too anxious to ever undertake journeys unless they have someone with them, for example because they have panic attacks or similar, will be unlikely to be awarded more than 4 points by the DWP. This means they will not be able to get an award of the mobility component on the basis of this activity alone.

Even claimants who are too anxious to ever go on journeys, even if they have someone with them, will only score 10 points and thus not be eligible for the enhanced rate of the mobility component on the basis of this activity alone.

Ruthless
The new regulations also make changes to the way that descriptors relating to taking medication are interpreted, again in response to a ruling by judges in favour of claimants.

The new regulations are being rushed in without the Social Security Advisory Committee even being given a chance to comment on them.

Penny Mordaunt, the minister for disabled people, claimed in a statement today that

“Two recent Upper Tribunal judgments have broadened the way the PIP assessment criteria should be interpreted, going beyond the original intention. In order to make sure the initial purpose of PIP is maintained, we are making drafting amendments to the criteria which provide greater clarity. This will not result in any claimants seeing a reduction in the amount of PIP previously awarded by DWP. . . If not urgently addressed, the operational complexities could undermine the consistency of assessments, leading to confusion for all those using the legislation, including claimants, assessors, and the courts. It is because of the urgency caused by these challenges, and the implications on public expenditure, that proposals for these amendments have not been referred to the Social Security Advisory Committee before making the regulations.”

In reality, the new regulations are a ruthless response to fair and reasonable judgements and their only purpose is to cut the cost of disability benefits, regardless of the effect on the lives of individuals.

The new regulations will not apply to claims made before 16 March.

We will be updating our PIP guide before the new regulations come into force.

You can download a copy of Penny Mordaunt’s statement here.

You can download a copy of the new regulations here.

Error corrected:  the text previously said that the new law would not apply to decisions made before 16 March.  It has now been amended to state that it will not apply to claims made before 16 March.

Comments  

#23 Flower1962 2017-05-10 14:15
Can anyone advice how long from receiving the letter saying we have all the evidence we need to make a decision about your pip claim to receiving the actual decision. I had my face to face assessment on Easter Saturday by ATOS
+1 #22 Bill24chev 2017-03-03 09:46
Quoting Derek4:
When the Government scrapped Incapacity Benefit Regulation 27(b) (exceptional circumstances) bypassing the Social Security Advisory Committee, the Court of Appeal subsequently ruled that the new regulations were 'ultra vires'. Thus the new regulations were deemed unlawful because new regs detrimental to claimants had to be scrutinised by the SSAC before going to Parliament, and Regulation 27(b) was effectively reinstated.

I'm just wondering whether a similar legal challenge could be made by claimants affected by the new ridiculous rules ?

Totally agree with tintack - I was beginning to wonder what pills Freeman is on!


Apparently the SoS as now contacted the SSAC and it will be scrutinised on the 8th March.
+1 #21 Derek4 2017-03-01 20:28
When the Government scrapped Incapacity Benefit Regulation 27(b) (exceptional circumstances) bypassing the Social Security Advisory Committee, the Court of Appeal subsequently ruled that the new regulations were 'ultra vires'. Thus the new regulations were deemed unlawful because new regs detrimental to claimants had to be scrutinised by the SSAC before going to Parliament, and Regulation 27(b) was effectively reinstated.

I'm just wondering whether a similar legal challenge could be made by claimants affected by the new ridiculous rules ?

Totally agree with tintack - I was beginning to wonder what pills Freeman is on!
+2 #20 moira smith 2017-03-01 13:00
Anyone going through the mandatory and appeals process get as much evidence as possible to support your claim . Ask specialists and GPs for reports or letters .Every bit you get is proof of your struggles in daily life
+5 #19 Asbo 2017-02-28 19:18
It is discriminating against people with mental illness and therefore could surely be pursued under the Equality Act which gives people with mental and physical illness a right to a decent life, a social life etc. By barring them from the extra costs of disability this is direct discrimination.

My sister is in a state of terror because she cannot travel without accompaniment for these reasons. Besides, anybody who's ever suffered severe anxiety, which I have done, knows that is anything but mental. The symptoms are completely physical. What is happening in the brain and nervous system are completely physical too.
+7 #18 frmarcus 2017-02-28 00:08
This change - diminishment of entitlement - is contrary to the PM's high-profile recent statement that her Government will 'prioritise' mental ill-health. The logical implication of the change is that the mentally ill should not expect to travel anywhere - that travel is not part of 'normal' life that disability benefit should support. Not only is this a highly dubious principle: that those who are denied mobility support will now be 'forced' to remain indoors will exacerbate many claimants' conditions, which may mean they then qualify for the standard or enhanced care component of PIP (unless a fiddle is worked on that too...)
+2 #17 madmark 2017-02-27 20:31
So what does Government currently mean by "distress", from what allowable or excluded impairments does it arise, and what groups is this change in the law intended to cover or actively exclude? A notional group with some "free floating distress"? People with intractable "neurotic" disorders - which are notoriously hard to treat? All those with mental health diagnoses including the Psychoses ("severe and enduring mental health problems")? Or wider still and those with organic issues such as epilepsy, and those with learning difficulties?
+4 #16 tintack 2017-02-26 23:41
Quoting Crazydiamond:
Just when you think that the government couldn't insult disabled any more, they have managed to castigate claimants with mental health problems:-

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-39097019


You have to love this bit:

Quote:
"I don't need any lectures on the damage anxiety does."
Actually it sounds as though that's exactly what he does need.

And this from someone who says he has suffered from anxiety and depression himself!
+3 #15 Crazydiamond 2017-02-26 19:05
Just when you think that the government couldn't insult disabled any more, they have managed to castigate claimants with mental health problems:-

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-39097019
#14 Misty68 2017-02-26 13:13
Can someone please define what "reasons other than" could possibly mean if they do not cover physical impairment, psychological distress, cognitive impairment or an intellectual impairment? Have the government essentially removed all possible criteria for meeting this descriptor? Those of us who tried to claim points under this activity for physical impairment that interfered who our ability to meet descriptor 1 were told it was ONLY for claimants with psychological impairments. So who actually qualifies now?
+4 #13 denise 2017-02-25 11:37
Quote:
This is appalling my son has a mental health illness i thought it was going to the ones who have the greatest difficultiesThis makes a mockert of all they have said about helping people with mental illness All there is left to say what bas// they are.
i would like to say he has a severe illness shizophrenia and it is life long they said back along that those with the most severe illnessess would not be assessed as it woud be to stressful i would like to say that this government are evil because what they have said is just words when they come out with a statement like this I have read today the the tories have admitted that they have done this as a cost cut effect just like the 20mtrs law they brought in And medication what is that all about people have to have medication and most have to have it applied to them by their carer,s as my son does because if t was left up to him he would either not take it or take to much Cruel is to easy a word to say about this government They are heartless and to put money aside fo a train service HS2 tells you everything.
+4 #12 Micktj 2017-02-25 01:25
I think on mental health issues and pip claims, all seems to be in favour of claimants with severe mental illness backed up with specialist/cons ultants medical evidence. The DWP have looked at this and seem to have the belief that most people suffer from stress to some degree whether they hide their feelings or not (or are good at hiding feelings) but people in severe psychological distress are obviously seen to be this way and it is impossible to hide this. I was initially awarded 6 points for care and 0 points for mobility. I knew it was a "crafted affair" by the assessor (ambulance driver) and
decision maker sfter I already sent medical evidence letter indicating a possible need for heart transplant. I applied for Mandatory Reconsideration after which I think they felt they needed to dig further so it appears they directly contacted my GP and a hospital Cardiac Consultant. Their efforts left me feeling that they are so corrupt but they seemed to see me as fraudulent as they do most claimants I think. They awarded me the minimum they could on care and mobility but rightly or wrongly it seemed sufficient but I think I was too tired to "dig in" any further so accepted the decision. I sensed they guessed right about me in the end and maybe thought in my case they would do better to avoid appeal to tribunal as this I would have done. It seems you have to push, push and push again if you have the energy to get justice and in quick time too.
+2 #11 Crazydiamond 2017-02-24 16:10
I'I'm afraid I saw the change in the law coming.

The government changed the law in the Jobseeker's Allowance 'Reilly' case after the Court of Appeal handed down a judgement in which they lost, and simply changed the regulations on that occasion retrospectively , when continuing to pursue their appeal before the Supreme Court. They also changed the law at breakneck speed in relation to the spare room subsidy (bedroom tax), when they failed to recognise and act upon a loophole in the law. This government have certainly got form when judgements go against them with respect to Social Security legislation.

On the face of it, the new legislation would appear to be highly discriminatory, but it may be difficult to pursue under the Equality Act and/or the Human Rights Act, because invariably they do not apply to Acts of Parliament!
+3 #10 buster 2017-02-24 15:31
Heartless, absolutely heartless. And how convenient, releasing this news right in the middle of the by elections aftermath. Ensuring it will get absolutely no mention at all n the mainstream media such as the BBC.

When will this madness and persecution of the weak and vulnerable end?

Buster
+1 #9 vision 2017-02-24 14:39
So much for democracy !
Yet more "moving the goalposts" from the masters at this art.
Dictators.
#8 Idonia 2017-02-24 13:09
I lost my DLA Low Rate Mobility Component in April 2015 when I was reassessed onto PIP. That was the money that I used to use to pay for taxis to take me to and from vital weekly hospital appointments. Consequently, for almost two years I have been nearly completely housebound and my physical health has suffered as a result, to say nothing of my mental health. I'm due to have my ESA reassessed again this summer (only 9 months since the last time) and then likely another ESA reassessment next summer, with a PIP reassessment beginning in March next year. Three reassessments in 18 months despite suffering from a whole range of lifelong - incurable - physical and mental illnesses. I don't know how I will even begin to cope with this. I'm dreading the next couple of years.
#7 Bill24chev 2017-02-24 12:50
The problem I pointed out in my ealier post and the fact that the amendment may not do what the SoS for DWP or his Ministers have intended. I.E it may prevent claiments with cognition problems being awarded points which acording to the explanatory notes to the amendmen is (or Was) intended.

There may be a possibility of wiggle room for a Judicial Review which could include a decision that this amendment does not do as the SoS/Parliament origionaly intended because the definitions in origiional SI link Psycological Distress and Cognition problems.
+1 #6 G 2017-02-24 10:40
Even if decision-making is delayed, it would seem a potentially grey area for claims started prior to the new regulations, because payments, if awarded, get backdated (if someone has the energy, inclination and other resources to try to argue this point).
+5 #5 denise 2017-02-24 10:31
This is appalling my son has a mental health illness i thought it was going to the ones who have the greatest difficultiesThi s makes a mockert of all they have said about helping people with mental illness All there is left to say what bas// they are.
+1 #4 Bill24chev 2017-02-24 09:55
In the origionall SI((1) Schedule 1 (personal independence payment assessment) to the Social Security (Personal Independence Payment) Regulations 2013) included this definition
“psychological distress” means distress related to an enduring mental health condition or an intellectual or cognitive impairment;

The new Amendment says

" In the table in Part 3 (mobility activities), in relation to activity 1 (planning and following journeys), in descriptors c, d and f, for “Cannot” substitute “For reasons other than psychological distress, cannot”.

So if the definition of Psycological Distress includes

" or an intellectual or cognitive impairment;"

sugests to me that, as the oirigonal definition does not appear to be ammended, that even if you have an intellectual or cognitive impairment; you will not meet the Descriptors C, D & F og Mobilityn Activity 1because intellectual or cognitive impairment is included in the definition of Psycological Distress.

Is this just a further example of poor Drafting of an Si or is there some ulterioor motivr?

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