Ministers are clarifying how mobility disability assessments are carried out following criticism of changes to Personal Independence Payments. Those unable to walk more than 20m would automatically qualify, rather than the previous distance of 50m.
But peers said the new regulations should include the requirement that tasks be done “reliably, safely, repeatedly and in a timely manner”. Welfare Minister Lord Freud said he was looking “very actively” at the issue. Lord Freud came under fire over the new system of Personal Independence Payments, which replaces Disability Living Allowance, during question time in the Lords. Ministers say the new benefit will be targeted at those who need it most.
Independent crossbench peer Lord Alton of Liverpool said the new regulations failed to include the phrase “reliably, safely, repeatedly and in a timely manner” – used as the criteria to decide whether people can carry out essential tasks such as walking and dressing.
Lord Alton said one third of disabled people lived in poverty and it was estimated 42% fewer people would be eligible for mobility allowance. The revelation that some people “will have their specially adapted vehicles taken away from them or offered to them to buy” had caused “widespread disbelief and considerable distress”, he added.
Liberal Democrat Baroness Thomas of Winchester said: “If these words were not made statutory in some way or another, the number of appeals would rocket so much and there would be such a period of uncertainty in so many ways for so many people that it is not worth not putting them in.” Lord Freud said he recognised the strength of feeling and the government was “very actively” looking at putting the words into the regulations “in a way that works legally”. He said he hoped to present peers with a “definitive” approach in a week’s time.
Source: BBC NEWS
24th January 2013