So, I have just read an article on the Guardian website about how PIP is a ‘disaster for disabled people’. PIP stands for Personal Independence Payment and it is currently being rolled out to replace Disability Living Allowance (DLA). The article points out that hundreds of disabled people are having their adapted cars, scooters or powered wheelchairs taken away as they no longer ‘qualify’ under the new rules. You can only access the Motability Scheme if you receive the Enhanced rate of the mobility element of PIP, and this is the minimum you must be able to do in order to get that:
Can stand and then move more than 1 metre but no more than 20 metres, either aided or unaided
So what about people like me, who use crutches or a mobility scooter every day? Who rely on their cars to get about because their legs don’t work? Surely the fact that I rely on aids at all should count for something? And of course, thousands of people with ‘invisible disabilities’, which stop them being able to get around like the able bodied. When you apply for PIP, you need to attend an assessment – so someone hired by a private firm (who usually knows absolutely nothing about your medical condition) can ‘judge’ whether you are telling the truth on your application form and whether you are ‘bad enough’ for PIP. Often these assessments are being held in buildings that have no disabled access – WTF? And to top it all off, my PIP is set for only 3 years, at which point I have to apply again (because they obviously feel that a progressive neurological condition like Multiple Sclerosis may improve).
As you can tell, it makes me mad. I was awarded the Standard rate of the Daily Living element of PIP – because I have to use aids, such as a shower stool, to help me do everyday things. I don’t receive any of the mobility element because I am ‘mobile enough’, according to their criteria. I would love for whoever sets the criteria to spend just one day in my shoes. I struggle to walk the 5 minutes into town even with my crutches, as my leg drags so much that I am constantly tripping up. I then need to sit down when I’m there as I can’t walk any further. Anything more than 5 minutes and I have to use my mobility scooter. I can’t dance as I have no balance, which means that nights out with friends at club nights are a distant memory. I can’t run around with my kids. I can’t walk around exploring cities with Hubs like we used to in the old days without having to be stuck in a wheelchair. I can’t go to concerts unless I am in my wheelchair, as the venues are too big and the parking is usually atrocious. I can’t walk down the stairs without holding on, which means that I can’t carry a basket of washing downstairs. Yet, according to the PIP ‘experts’, I am ‘mobile enough’.
I have only been disabled for a few years, since my MS turned progressive, but the longer that I live a disabled life, the more I recognise how little understanding there is. How much we are seen as second class citizens, especially from the government. And it needs to stop. How ridiculous is it that I can’t go to certain coffee shops with my husband because they only have upstairs toilets? That the NHS premises I work in has a door bell 6 feet of the ground (so unreachable for someone in a wheelchair), heavy fire doors and no lift? That Lincolnshire Country Council do not allocate disabled parking spaces outside of a person’s home? That the London Underground design new Tube stations with no disabled access? Little changes that could make life so much easier…but we have to fight for these every step of the way, and still come to a brick wall.
Come on UK! It is 2016. We are meant to be a forward thinking nation but we are at a standstill when it comes to disabled rights.
Right, now I am going to go pick up my children using my £500 self-bought mobility scooter because I am ‘too mobile’ to qualify for any help to buy one. Grrrrrrr……