According to Disability Rights UK, The DWP has confirmed that 254,200 disabled people in receipt of the DLA higher rate mobility have had a Personal Independence Payment (PIP) reassessment outcome between October 2013 and October 2016. While 126,200 (50%) were awarded the enhanced PIP mobility rate, the statistics show that 65,200 (25%) had their benefit reduced to the standard PIP mobility rate, and 65,200 (25%) lost their mobility rate entitlement altogether.
This means that 50% of DLA claimants lost their right to be able to claim or join the Motability scheme – a scheme ran by the Motability Operations Ltd charity to improve the quality of life of many people in the UK living with a disability.
What is Motability?
The Motability Scheme is government funded, allowing disabled motorists who qualify for higher PIP or DLA mobility rate to exchange their mobility allowance against a brand-new vehicle, most commonly, every three years. Some vehicles require an initial deposit from the disabled motorists, whilst others can be ordered with no advance payment.
The aim of the scheme is to help disabled people maintain the independence and freedom that comes with a vehicle that suits your disability needs. Vehicles can be adapted for wheelchair access, and other disability adaptations. Your mobility allowance covers all the running costs of a vehicle apart from the fuel. Each Motability lease usually includes insurance, breakdown assistance, servicing and maintenance, and the monthly costs of the vehicle – all you need to do is add fuel.
The eligibility of the scheme is fairly straight forward – you must be receiving one of the following mobility allowances and have at least twelve months remaining on the benefit to quality for the scheme:
– Higher Rate Mobility Component of Disability Living Allowance (HRMC DLA): as of 12 April 2017, this allowance is £58.00 per week.
– Enhanced Rate Mobility Component of Personal Independence Payment (ERMC PIP): as of 10 April 2017, this allowance is £58.00 per week.
– War Pensioners’ Mobility Supplement (WPMS): as of 12 April 2017, this allowance is £64.80 per week.
– Armed Forces Independence Payment (AFIP): as of 12 April 2017, the mobility element of the allowance is £58.00 per week.
As of 2016, there were 655,000 people benefiting from the Motability Scheme, 70,000 more than 2010 – with estimated revealing that as many as a million people could be eligible to join the scheme.
Why are reassessments reducing benefits?
Many disability benefit claimants have been subject to reassessments in recent months as the DLA transitions to PIP – and as a result, have lost their eligibility for mobility allowances. According to Muscular Dystrophy UK, around 900 vehicles are being taken away from disabled claimants every week because they are being rejected for PIP – 45% of all case reassessments have resulted in losing their eligibility.
The transition from DLA to PIP is proving to be anything but smooth. The number of people eligible for Motability funding has halved during the reassessment process since PIP launched in 2013, according to Muscular Dystrophy UK – with a change in rules suggested to be the main component which is seeing so many people losing their higher benefits. To qualify for the higher level of the mobility component of PIP, which is needed to get a Motability vehicle, a person must be unable to walk unaided for 20 metres, compared with the previous distance of 50 metres under DLA.
The charity said 126,300 of the 254,200 people who were eligible for Motability funding under DLA and had been reassessed for PIP are now no longer eligible. The latest figures from the Motability charity reveal that around 51,000 people have been taken off the scheme and have had to hand back their vehicle following their PIP reassessment. So far, just over 3,000 of these have been able to re-join the scheme after appealing against the decision and having it overturned.
MPs and campaigners are currently demanding that changes are made to the Motability scheme so that people under reassessment do not have their vehicle taken away until they have had the chance to appeal against their decision. This way, disabled claimants won’t be left short without means to travel safely and independently. However, the Motability scheme currently offer previous claimants who have lost their eligibility for the scheme, £2,000 as short-term support, part of their support package.
So far, Motability have provided more than £50 million as part of their support through the transitional package – however, a DWP spokesman comments that “the reality is that, since PIP was introduced in 2013, more than two million decisions have been made; of these just 7% have been appealed and 3% have been overturned.”
Should other DLA, PIP WPMS and AFIP claimants worry that they too will be at risk of reassessment that will lead them to lose their eligibility? Unfortunately, that could be the reality following the new rules changes that have come into play alongside the transition from DLA to PIP.