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Once more, with feeling

August 5, 2013

I wouldn’t usually blog twice in one day, but having sat down in front of the telly with twitter on my phone, I spotted a tweet from the Spartacus group reminding people that the consultation on the hard-won further consultation on the mobility element of the PIP closes tonight.

We have been here before, of course.  But I thought it worth sending another quick response.  You have just got time to do the same yourself: email pip.assessment@dwp.gsi.gov.uk before midnight if you can.  All you really need to say is no: it’s not reasonable to reduce the distance at which you get the kind of enhanced financial support that might enable you to get out and about from “being able to move 50 yards” to “being able to move 20 yards”.  Come on!

Here’s what I sent, although I’ve redacted some personal stuff about my own experiences of mobility issues.

My view is that it is unreasonable to set rigid limits, whether 20 or 50 metres, in deciding whether or not a person is entitled to the advanced rate of PIP.  In my experience disability is a fluctuating condition and fatigue is, in particular, difficult to quantify.  A person might reasonably be able to walk 30 metres one day and 10 another, for example.  They might be able to move about under some circumstances – early in the day, in familiar territory, with the use of aids – and yet unable to move the same distance under different circumstances – late in the day, in a strange place where there is additional stress, or under circumstances which include other stressors, for example.

I believe a more reasonable way of deciding whether a person should receive PIP at the lower or higher rate is to use a test analogous to that used in determining tax avoidance.  Under the General Anti Abuse Rule there is a “double reasonableness” test (see B12.1 middle bullet) Under this test, tax avoidance is not deemed to be “abusive” unless the double reasonableness test is met:

This requires HMRC to show that the arrangements “cannot reasonably be regarded as a reasonable course of action”.

This test could be adapted into the PIP regulations for existing holders of, and applicants for, the higher rate of PIP or analogous mobility allowance by specifying that the PIP will be paid at the higher rate in respect of mobility unless this “cannot reasonably be regarded as a reasonable course of action”.  In other words, rather than testing and (forgive me) harassing fellow citizens with disabilities as if they were trying to pull a fast one, you regarded them as having a legitimate need for the higher rate allowance unless it was reasonable to regard any other course of action as reasonable.

Kind regards

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