Can you help? Billie, a claimant with severe mental health issues, has launched a legal challenge against the recent changes to PIP. The new regulations have made it much harder for people with mental health conditions to get an award of the mobility component.
In January of this year the DWP lost a case before a panel of upper tribunal judges.
The decision supported advice we had been giving for years: that claimants with conditions such as severe anxiety can qualify for the enhanced rate of the mobility component, just on the basis of problems with ‘Planning and following a journey’.
Rather than accept defeat, the government rushed through new regulations which came into force in March.
The effect is that people who are too anxious to ever undertake journeys, unless they have someone with them, will only be awarded 4 points by the DWP. This is not enough to get an award of the mobility component.
Even claimants who are too anxious to ever go on journeys, even if they have someone with them, will only score 10 points. This is not enough to get an award of the enhanced mobility component.
Mind have estimated that up to 160,000 people with conditions such as severe anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and schizophrenia will lose out as a result of the changes.
Billie (not her real name) has severe mental health problems which mean that she is extremely vulnerable when travelling. She needs a lot of support to do this reliably and safely.
Because of her condition she often gets disoriented and confused and has poor concentration, memory and organisational skills.
When her condition is at its most severe, Billie can travel miles in the wrong direction with no recollection of how she has got there, often having to rely on the public and police to help her get home.
Billie was refused an award of the mobility component of PIP under the new regulations.
She has launched her High Court challenge on the basis that the change in the law discriminates against claimants with mental health conditions and also on the grounds that the DWP should have carried out a proper consultation before deciding whether to bring in the changes.
Billie and the Public Law Project are collaborating with human rights barrister Aileen McColgan of Matrix Chambers, who is working on a no-win no-fee basis.
However, £3,000 is still needed to cover court fees and other expenses.
Since the crowdfunding page opened on 23 May, £750 has already been donated.
We know from recent forecasts made by the office for Budget Responsibility that PIP is failing to cut the disability benefits bill. The only way that will change is if the DWP make the PIP test ever harder to pass, so that fewer and fewer claimants get an award.
This time it was claimants with mental health conditions who were targeted. Next it could be an claimants with an entirely different condition.
Whatever your health condition, everyone has an interest in ensuring that the DWP learns that it can’t just change the PIP regulations whenever it chooses. At least, not without facing a serious legal backlash.
If you can afford a small donation, Billie’s Crowdjustice page is here