Peter Dowd: Is my hon. Friend aware of any action taken by the Government to ensure that the most vulnerable people with disabilities are protected from being isolated in their communities if they lose their eligibility for mobility service under the changes from DLA to PIP? I do not know of any, and neither do many disability organisations, including Muscular Dystrophy UK.
Angela Rayner: Many Members have also raised that concern. I hope that the Minister will respond to it when he sums up.
Many speakers in this debate have given examples involving their constituents and told us of the devastating impact on their needs and self-esteem. Significant numbers of people who currently benefit from the higher rate DLA mobility component will fail to qualify for the enhanced rate mobility component in PIP. That is a deliberate outcome; it is what the Government said up front that they wanted to do. They wanted to cut those benefits. It is not based on need; it is based on making cuts and financial savings.
Many people have had the adapted vehicles that are vital to their lives and livelihoods withdrawn as a result. I thank the hon. Member for Bath (Ben Howlett) for raising the need for joined-up services, and my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge (Daniel Zeichner), who told us the story of Lisa’s experience and the impact of the cuts on her life. The hon. Member for North Ayrshire and Arran (Patricia Gibson) spoke passionately about the responsibilities of society and community, and the cuts to the work-related activity group of employment and support allowance.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Enfield North (Joan Ryan) spoke of her concerns about the quality of the PIP assessment and the conflict with medical experts who know the person’s needs. It is simply not fit for purpose. The hon. Member for Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock (Corri Wilson) discussed Kayleigh’s experience and how only 50% of people get to keep the car after being assessed for PIP, and my hon. Friend the Member for Mitcham and Morden (Siobhain McDonagh) discussed the devastating impact of the removal of the cars before an appeal has been heard.
The reality is that £24 billion in support will be removed from nearly 4 million disabled people by 2018. The policy will hinder disabled people, not help them. It is about removing support, not providing it, for people to live and work independently. The Extra Costs Commission has shown that disabled people face an average of £550 in extra living costs a month as a result of their disability, which is the main reason why disabled people are twice as likely to live in poverty as non-disabled people. PIP is meant to help with those extra costs. The Government’s determination to maintain such a flawed rule is a direct assault on independent living for many, and it greatly hinders opportunities for those with disabilities to contribute to society.
Any one of us is likely at some time to be affected by disability, either directly or in caring for a disabled friend or relative. I know; my son is registered disabled. I urge the Government to rethink this policy.
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