PIP: A step too far

Walking to car with crutches

Keith Robson calls for major changes to PIP - starting with an end to the 20 meter rule.

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21st June 2018 by TFN Guest 0 Comments

On Tuesday I had the privilege of attending the launch at Westminster of our MS Society report PIP:  A step too far. The impact of the 20 metre rule on people with MS. Five years since the introduction of PIP, this is the first report that focuses primarily on the effect of this new benefit on people with MS.  

Hosted by Heidi Allen MP and Stephen Timms MP, the launch heard real life accounts from people living with MS about the impact of PIP. The silence in the room after the campaign film ended was extremely powerful and a moment I’ll long remember. 

Keith Robson

Keith Robson

The cost of having MS
Life is more expensive if you have MS. Things like an adapted car, treatments and therapies, and higher gas and electricity bills are just some of the extra costs many people with MS face. 

On average, people with neurological conditions like MS spend an extra £200 each week to cover expenses related to their condition. PIP is supposed to help pay for some of these costs, but people aren’t getting the support they need. 

How far is 20 metres?
If you can walk just one step over 20 metres, which is roughly the length of two double-decker buses, the UK Government says you don’t need higher level mobility support. This is even if you’re using aids like a walking stick. 

The rule just isn’t taking into account the way MS symptoms can vary enormously from one day to the next. 1 in 3 people have lost support when they’ve transferred from the old benefit, DLA, onto PIP.

The impact of reduced support
Losing this support can mean losing your independence. People with MS told us they’ve lost their Motability car, not been able to get to work, see their doctor or pick up their children from school. 

Our report shows the negative impact of reduced support from PIP on people’s physical and mental health, relationships, work and financial security. We found that this loss of support is having a significant knock-on effect on local services and communities, as people with MS resort to higher use of GP, counselling, therapy, emergency health and advice services. 

Our analysis shows that, of the people we surveyed
● 65% said the transition from DLA to PIP had a negative effect on their MS
● 39% increased their use of GP services
● 39% had to reduce spending on food
● 30% reduced spending on treatments or therapies (such as physiotherapy and counselling)
● 27% had to borrow money from family or friends

Enough is enough. PIP needs to change – starting with the UK Government scrapping the 20 metre rule.

We’re pleased that Scottish MPs Deirdre Brock, Hugh Gaffney, Neil Gray, Lesley Laird and Chris Stephens all pledged their support at the launch, as did Ian Murray when we met before the event.   

Will you add your voice? Join the thousands who signed the petition within hours of its launch:

Keith Robson is Policy, Public Affairs and Campaigns Manager (Scotland) for the MS Society Scotland