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Your spotlight on local services

Government narrows access to disability benefit


The Government is to narrow access to Personal Independence Payments (PIP) in a move that will particularly affect people with mental health needs.

In a surprise announcement, the government said it was the changing rules so fewer people will be able to get the benefit which helps disabled people with the extra costs linked to living with a disability.

The new rules will make it hard for people with mental health problems to qualify for the mobility component. They will also make it harder for people who don't receieve therapy but need help to both manage their medication and monitor their health condition.

The move follows two recent Upper Tribunal decisions.

In [2016] UKUT 531 (AAC), the Upper Tribunal said entitlement to PIP mobility on the basis of being unable to follow a journey was not restricted to those with learning difficulties or sensory impairments, but also covered those who had problems in reliably following a journey due to overwhelming psychological distress.

In [2016] UKUT 0530 (AAC), the Upper Tribunal found that where someone needed substantial help both to take medication and to monitor their condition, this should be considered as support to 'manage therapy' allowing them to get more points under the PIP rules.

The changes to the PIP rules from 16 March will effectively reverse both Upper Tribunal decisions. The changes will only apply to new awards after that date and will not lead to any existing awards being reduced.