McVey set to face legal challenge over PIP changes that came ‘out of nowhere’

Disabled activists are planning legal action over the government’s decision to tighten eligibility for support for people with the highest mobility needs.

Many disabled activists were shocked and angry when Esther McVey, the Conservative minister for disabled people, announced the unexpected changes in December.

The alterations to the regulations that will decide who is eligible for the new personal independence payment (PIP) – which will gradually replace working-age disability living allowance from this April – saw the key walking distance criteria reduced from 50 to 20 metres.

Lawyers advising the WeAreSpartacus online network of disabled campaigners have now suggested that this lowering of the distance criteria could be unlawful.

Jane Young, coordinator of WeAreSpartacus, said: “The reason for a legal challenge and a great part of its basis in law is that there was absolutely no consultation on 20 metres at all.

“One of the reasons people are particularly angry about this is that the 20 metres has literally come out of nowhere.

“We realised PIP would not be great, but it wasn’t until the regulations were published that we realised how bad it would be from the mobility perspective.”

She is now appealing on her blog for disabled people – although only those in certain categories – to come forward to take a case against the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

Earlier this week, McVey insisted again that the “moving around” part of the PIP assessment – which includes the 50 to 20 metres change – had not been tightened in December.

She told a committee of MPs debating the PIP regulations: “I know that there have been concerns that we have tightened up rules regarding the physical mobility activity ‘moving around’. I take this opportunity to reassure honourable members that that is not the case.”

This “reassurance” came despite the government’s own figures making it clear that the overall package of changes announced in December would see – by 2015 – 20,000 fewer people eligible for the enhanced mobility rate than under the previous draft version of the PIP regulations, with this gap rising to 51,000 by 2018.

McVey claimed that, under previous drafts, the government had “differentiated by the type of aid and appliance that an individual used”, and “used terms such as ‘up to’ certain distances, which meant it was not clear which descriptor applied to people”.

She said: “In the final version of the criteria, we differentiate by distance, which we feel is much clearer.

“In the final draft, individuals who cannot walk 20 metres can be certain they will receive the enhanced rate, regardless of whether they need an aid or appliance.”

And she insisted that last month’s decision to ensure that the need for activities to be carried out “safely, reliably, repeatedly and in a timely manner” was included in the regulations would make “the protection in our policy stronger”.

But Anne McGuire, Labour’s shadow minister for disabled people, said disabled people had “been alarmed at the hurdle they will now face before being awarded the enhanced mobility rate”.

She said: “Most of those who have looked at these descriptors would say that a 20-metre qualifying distance simply does not provide a practical level of mobility.”

She said about 200 disabled people in every parliamentary constituency were likely to lose their Motability vehicle with a 20-metre qualifying distance.

And she pointed out that one of the Department for Transport’s own publications, Inclusive Mobility, recommends that “seating should be provided on pedestrian routes at intervals of no more than 50 metres, and that parking spaces for blue badge holders should preferably be provided within 50 metres of the facilities they serve”.

7 February 2013

News provided by John Pring at

3 thoughts on “McVey set to face legal challenge over PIP changes that came ‘out of nowhere’

  1. im disabled sah and stroke and a lot other illnesses , now i can get to my car it is my car not a gov 1 but if i had to use public transport id never get out im scared of people coming into contact with people i do not no the most i go is the small local shop as i no them also get to park near door more expensive but my fear of people and crowds is worth an exta 10p now if they cut my benifits ill not be able to pay for care and ill not afford tax i dont even put petrol in my car i ask my carer to do it now what box would i fit as i dont no im under mental health aswell as a llot of illnesses i do not fit a box of any kind, this interview thing im scared of people its creawl to make people like me go threw thing like this surely theres a law somewhere saying its creawl, im scared to death i could not cope with help i need my money we are honest there making out were not i am so scared of being stuck no care and not getting my 5 mins to little shop i may aswell be dead ill never manage alone

  2. Esther McVey has dismissed the fact not every disabled person can be like Alexei Petrovich Maresiev.

    ”Despite being heavily injured, Alexei managed to return to the Soviet-controlled territory on his own. During his 18-day long journey, his injuries deteriorated so badly that both of his legs had to be amputated below the knee. Desperate to return to his fighter pilot career, he subjected himself to near a year of exercise to master the control of his prosthetic devices, and succeeded at that, returning to flying in June 1943.”

    Not even the cruel Joseph Stalin treated his war heroes that had been deprived of their limbs during World War 2 like this woman wants to do to those in UK who have returned from Afghanistan with disabilities.
    On top, the soldiers’ families are being hit with bedroom tax while the men are away from home and serving the country (while Tories are lining their pockets with money they steal from the state).

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