Following intense pressure from the Countess of Mar and members of Professor Malcolm Harrington's Fluctuating Conditions Group, the Department of Work and Pensions have changed their mind on the way the needs of people with fluctuating conditions – like ME/CFS and multiple sclerosis – will be considered when the new Personal Independence Payments start replacing the Disability Living Allowance on 8 April.
This announcement was flagged up on the DWP website yesterday:
31 January 2013 – PIP assessment guidance to be further strengthened in law
How someone carries out a range of activities will be considered when their eligibility for the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is assessed, under law, Esther McVey, Minister for Disabled People, confirmed today.
The proposed addition to the regulations now means that legally individuals will be assessed on what they can do safely, reliably, repeatedly and in a reasonable time period.
Following a consultation on the regulations, it was suggested some of the criteria claimants needed to meet was unclear and didn't take into account fluctuating conditions. These amendments seek to address this.
Minister for Disabled People, Esther McVey said:
Our intention has always been the same – we want to target support at those who need it most. We have always said that we will not just look at whether individuals can carry out activities but also the manner in which they do so.
I know that disabled people and their representatives feel strongly that this important concept is set out in law and I am happy to do this.
The addition to the regulations formalises the current wording included in draft PIP guidance.
A draft amending regulation has been published today. A final Regulation will be laid once the PIP regulations currently being considered by Parliament are made but before they come into force in April.
Note to Editors:
The draft amending Regulation is published on the DWP website:
MEA note 1: Our medical adviser, Dr Charles Shepherd, represented the Countess of Mar's Forward ME Group on the Fluctuating Conditions Group and has played a highly significant, behind-the-scenes role in winning this change in Government policy.
MEA note 2: Following this week's U-turn, Disability Rights UK have now updated their factsheet on Personal Independence Payments to include the new abilities test criteria: http://disabilityrightsuk.org/f60.htm