North Herts MS sufferers less likely to have extra support under new system
PUBLISHED: 07:01 23 April 2019 | UPDATED: 12:36 23 April 2019
Multiple sclerosis sufferers in North Herts are likely to have lost part of their mobility benefit under the new system, data has revealed.
The MS Society says this is down to the “unfair and senseless” criteria for the Personal Independence Payment, which takes the highest mobility rate away from people who can walk more than 20 metres.
In February 2013, before the transition to PIP, there were 141 Disability Living Allowance claimants with MS in North Herts.
Of those, 131 were on the highest mobility payment – 93 per cent of the group.
By January this year, just 58 people with MS in North Herts were receiving the highest rate of mobility benefits under PIP – 68 per cent of claimants.
The enhanced rate is awarded to people who have severe difficulties moving around, and covers the cost of specially adapted cars and scooters.
But compared to DLA under the previous benefit system, people with the condition are less likely to get this extra support.
Under DLA, the higher rate was awarded to people who could not walk 50 metres unaided, compared to 20 metres for PIP.
Multiple sclerosis is a debilitating neurological condition, and symptoms include pain, fatigue and loss of movement in the limbs. Many sufferers find it difficult to walk without assistance.
Phillip Anderson, head of policy at the MS Society, said: “More than 100,000 people live with MS in the UK, and we know it's harder for them to get mobility support under PIP than DLA. That's down to the 20 metre rule.
“This unfair and senseless criteria says if you can walk one step over 20 metres you don't need the highest level of mobility support and are therefore ineligible for a motability vehicle, which many rely on to get around.
“It was brought in when PIP started to replace DLA as part of reforms to reflect a 'modern understanding of disability', but there's nothing modern or understanding about thousands of people with MS trapped in their own homes, with worsening health, and unable to get to work.”
Claimants of the enhanced mobility rate receive £61.20 per week, and £23.20 at the standard rate.
In North Herts, one in five people with MS received the lower rate, and 12 per cent were paid no mobility benefits at all.