Liberal Democrats are the only party standing up against PIP cuts

If you haven’t read Matt’s article about how the changes to Personal Independence Payments will affect him, then please do so.

Last night, the amazing Liberal Democrat peers did their best to try and stop the Government’s plans in their tracks. They filed a fatal motion which, like the one that saw off the fatal changes to tax credits, would have forced the Government to think again.

What they needed was the support of the Labour Party. However, as we know from Brexit, Labour don’t seem to be up for providing any opposition that actually means anything. Did they vote for our motion? No. They did, however, put down their own motion which amounted to little more than “We don’t like this very much but we aren’t going to do anything about it.”

Be in no doubt that if Labour had supported our motion, these PIP cuts would not be happening.

Following the votes,  Baroness Celia Thomas, Lords Spokesperson for Disability, said:

These hastily drawn-up Regulations are a disgrace.  By withdrawing the highest rate of mobility support to some of the most vulnerable claimants, the Government are condemning many to a housebound existence.

We had a chance to stop this. The Liberal Democrats voted to end it. Labour did not support us. They did not support those vulnerable people set to have their lives ruined by a Conservative Government intent on making cuts no matter how damaging.

Labour have once again shown their spineless inability to take a stand. Like tax credits we could have forced the Government to think again but instead they voted only for their limp motion which will ultimately do nothing to alter the course of Government.

The Liberal Democrats are the only true voice of opposition, standing up to this reckless and uncaring Conservative Government.

Not for the first time, you have to wonder what the point of the Labour Party in Parliament is. Should they not just go and sit on the Government benches?

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • @Caron Lindsay

    Agree with everything you have said, Labour are spineless and a total disgrace. For someone who has pretty much voted Labour all their voting life, apart from the few times that I have voted Liberal Democrat, that is not an easy thing for me to say, well up until now anyway. I will never forgive them for their betrayal to disabled people.

    One thing I do need to point out though, there is a misconception amongst many people that this will only effect the enhanced rate of the mobility component of PIP for people with mental health disabilities and that they will still be entitlement for the standard rate. This is not the case and most people will not get any award at all.
    In order to be eligible for pip you need to score 8 points for the standard rate and 12 points for the Enhanced Rate.
    The Government has updated the guides given to decision makers when assessing awards
    They give an example of someone who suffers from severe anxiety and panic attacks and needs support from another person when outdoors, they have said they should only score 4 points for prompting and therefore would be ineligible for an award.

    The only way someone with mental health disabilities can score enough points for the standard rate is E) Cannot undertake any journey because it would cause overwhelming psychological distress to the claimant, which scores 10 points.
    In order to qualify for this, the person would need to be totally housebound and never leave the house in any circumstances.
    The assessor and the DWP would ask If you ever leave the house for GP appointments, hospital etc and if you say yes but only with support, you would automatically fall into Category B). Needs prompting to be able to undertake any journey to avoid overwhelming psychological distress to the claimant which only scores 4 points.

    This government is being ruthless in ripping away vital support that many vulnerable disabled people rely upon in order to maintain even the slightest level of independence. It really is horrific and even I never thought that Tories were capable of going this far and my opinion of them was rock bottom in the first place.

  • Richard Whelan 28th Mar '17 - 3:50pm


    What groups of disabled people are the higher mobility component of PIP being withdrawn from? Are they people with variable conditions?

    I have Cerebral Palsy which I have had since birth and which will not change to the point where I will suddenly be able to do things I cannot currently do. Would I be affected by these changes? I am still waiting to be transferred from DLA to PIP and am told that my turn for a PIP assessment will come. However having the higher rate of mobility under the present DLA arrangements means that I am entitled to and have a Motorability vehicle. Do I run the risk of losing this vehicle under these changes?

  • @Richard Whelan

    These Pip changes should not really affect people with a physical condition, these changes to legislation are aimed at people with mental health disorders for the mobility component of PIP.
    The only changes from DLA to PIP for Mobility that I know of is this
    2. Moving around.
    a. Can stand and then move more than 200 metres, either aided or unaided. 0 points.
    b. Can stand and then move more than 50 metres but no more than 200 metres, either aided or unaided. 4 points.
    c. Can stand and then move unaided more than 20 metres but no more than 50 metres. 8 points.
    d. Can stand and then move using an aid or appliance more than 20 metres but no more than 50 metres. 10 points.
    e. Can stand and then move more than 1 metre but no more than 20 metres, either aided or unaided. 12 points.
    f. Cannot, either aided or unaided, –
    (i) stand; or
    (ii) move more than 1 metre. 12 points.

    Again to be eligible for the standard rate you need to score 8 points and for the enhanced rate it is 12 points

    You can also score points in the
    1. Planning and following journeys.
    a. Can plan and follow the route of a journey unaided. 0 points.
    b. Needs prompting to be able to undertake any journey to avoid overwhelming psychological distress to the claimant. 4 points.
    c. For reasons other than psychological distress, cannot plan the route of a journey. 8 points.
    d. For reasons other than psychological distress, cannot follow the route of an unfamiliar journey without another person, assistance dog or orientation aid. 10 points.
    e. Cannot undertake any journey because it would cause overwhelming psychological distress to the claimant. 10 points.
    f. For reasons other than psychological distress, cannot follow the route of a familiar journey without another person, an assistance dog or an orientation aid. 12 points

    So you can score a combination in both categories if your disability falls into both categories.
    Hope that helps with your query

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 28th Mar '17 - 4:48pm

    It is disgraceful that Labour did not oppose this. How can they claim to be a compassionate party that cares about the most vulnerable?

  • Ruth Bright 28th Mar '17 - 6:41pm

    So welcome that Matt mentions dementia. The whole way PIP was designed in the first place is a disaster for people with early onset dementia. Putting it bluntly people with dementia can get through all the tests – they can weigh up, communicate and understand the tests but the system is not sensitive to the fact that they cannot REMEMBER the tests afterwards. Feel a little queasy about Lib Dem back slapping about on this though given our role as midwife to PIP during the coalition.

  • Tony Dawson 28th Mar '17 - 7:24pm

    I dealt with another case today. On the face of it, the person providing the interview who then writes a report to the DWP ‘Decision Maker’ is lying deliberately yet again. Whether this is down to individual malice or some government policy I know not. If it is the former,there must be an awful lot of malicious individuals around and certain firms must know how to recruit them.

  • @ Tony Dawson and Ruth Bright

    I feel much more than queasy after I saw the interview with that nice Mr Clegg when PIP was first introduced. “Going to see somebody” was nice talk about sending in (at that time it was ATOS and we know all about them). Just search for the item below. Very revealing.

    Nick Clegg defends disability benefit reforms – video | Politics | The …
    Video for nick clegg personal independence payments▶ 1:19 › Politics › Nick Clegg
    8 Apr 2013
    Nick Clegg explains the government’s reforms to disability benefits, as the introduction of personal …

  • Personal Independence Payments 8 April 2013 Nick Clegg The Guardian

    Cut and paste the line above – and then search. Should be top item with a video of the then Deputy Prime Minister..

  • Because of the explanation Matt gives in the first comment I err when describing it as a cut to disability benefits and would prefer to call the government out on a lack of understanding and sympathy to those with disabilities/long term health conditions. I’m not 100% sure that saving money is the aim in this instance and am, this time at least, more comfortable with the idea that the person(s) making this decision are just woefully under-informed.

    If anyone is worried about this then there are a number of charities (local and national) who specialise in welfare benefit rights who will be able to inform you further about what this means and how it can impact on your life. With regards to the specific question about the notability care then this has some detail about that:

  • @DJ

    I believe it absolutely is a cut to disability benefits.

    Before these changes to the legislation and the descriptors, the words “For reasons other than psychological distress” did not form part of the decision makers guides.
    Therefore it was entirely possible for decision makers to assess those who are suffering from mental health conditions and psychological distress as being categorised as either
    c. cannot plan the route of a journey. 8 points.
    d. cannot follow the route of an unfamiliar journey without another person, assistance dog or orientation aid. 10 points.
    e. Cannot undertake any journey because it would cause overwhelming psychological distress to the claimant. 10 points.
    f. cannot follow the route of a familiar journey without another person, an assistance dog or an orientation aid. 12 points
    All of which “could” have resulted in either a standard award or an enhanced award for the mobility component of PIP.
    The insertion of the text “”For reasons other than psychological distress”” wipes out all of that apart from those who fall into category (e) i.e those who are totally housebound and never goes out.
    The guidelines issued to decision makers states that if someone is able to go out with support / supervision from another person they should only score ( b). Needs prompting to be able to undertake any journey to avoid overwhelming psychological distress to the claimant. 4 points, therefore meaning they are not entitled to any award for PIP.

    I can not see this as anything else other than a cut to disability benefits, especially since under the old system of DLA, those needing support / supervision when outdoors were entitled to the lower rate of DLA Mobility component

  • My understanding of today’s debate is now, that it is just that, a debate, pure political posturing by Labour, an opportunity for MP’s to stand up in parliament and register their protest against these changes, there will be no vote to reverse the legislation, however, MP’s will be able to claim in the media and to their constituents that they registered their protest in the house of commons.

    If Labour were serious about revoking this legislation they would have supported the Liberal Democrats fatal Motion in the House of Lords, which would have at least forced a debate and a vote in the house of commons. Labour did not do that and instead tabled a motion of “regret”
    This is now pure political posturing by Labour and it is an insult to disabled people to claim that they are on their side.

  • Sue Sutherland 29th Mar '17 - 10:23am

    Matt I agree with you that it’s not just a lack of understanding. The whole system has changed, step by step, to being based on a presumption that you are guilty of trying to get benefits without good reason unless you can prove otherwise and the ways you can prove it have become more and more restricted. This is all about saving money and is the equivalent of kicking away someone’s walking stick.

  • @ Caron, “Liberal Democrats are the only party standing up against PIP cuts”. Errrrr, no. Not quite.

    I’m sorry, Caron, but having watched the BBC Parliament Channel throughout the whole Brexit statement your headline is incorrect. Neil Gray, MP for Airdrie & Shotts, demanded an emergency debate on PIP at the end of the Statement. He spoke powerfully. No Lib Dem MP was in the chamber.

    I don’t doubt the efforts of the unelected Lib Dem peers to tackle this issue, but it does Lib Dem credibility no good- (especially when we supported the introduction of PIP in the coalition in 2012/13) to claim the sole moral high ground on this issue when it is patently not so.

    On the Brexit Statement, I thought Mrs May extremely wooden and inadequate.As a former colleague said to me, she is a plodder(a kind of south eastern Gordon Brown). I doubt if she will go down in history as one of the great Prime Ministers. I’m afraid there is a narrow shrill side to her whenever she rather clumsily fails to answer a question.

    I’m afraid the state of politics in the UK – especially down south – is somewhat depressing at the moment.

  • @David Raw

    “Neil Gray, MP for Airdrie & Shotts, demanded an emergency debate on PIP at the end of the Statement.”
    I believe he was actually calling for an emergency debate on the changes to ESA WRAG group not PIP, incidently that was rejected.
    The emergency debate on PIP already took place today, it was disappointing to say the least, not only for the lack of members in the house, the lack of a vote but also because the minister was given 10 minutes at the end of the debate to respond and she spent the entire time waffling about anything and everything apart from actually discussing the actual legislation that the debate was granted for. How she was able to get away with this astounds me.
    There is just no holding this government to account, it makes a complete mockery of parliamentary procedure and democracy

  • @ Matt. Yes, you’re quite right – my mistake. I too watched what you did – it came later -and I agree with you.

  • Jayne Mansfield 29th Mar '17 - 9:06pm

    Are Ruth Bright and David Raw the only Liberal Democrats left in the party who have weak stomachs?

    @ Matt,
    Perhaps you should look at a) the values regarding care of the most vulnerable in society i.e. the disabled and labour ‘moderates’ who were responsible for ATOS, that it seems that the Liberal Democrats have hoped to attract to their own party , and b) the voting records of Liberal Democrats in power when matters relating to disability have been on the agenda.

  • @Jayne Mansfield

    It was not that many moon ago that I, like you, felt the need to defend Labour at every given turn, how my eye’s have since been opened, Gone are those since the day’s of Corbyn and momentum.
    That is not to say that I am a converted Liberal Democrat, I am neither ready to jump on that wagon, neither do I think I would be welcome, given my strong opposition to the EU and the Liberal Democrats stance on Brexit.

    That does not mean I can not agree with Liberal Democrats where there is common ground, or appeal to Liberal Democrats on issues that are of importance to me and others.

    With regards to this particular legislation, the Liberal Democrats have been far more proactive in fighting the legislation, had labour been serious, they would have supported the Liberal Democrat motion in the Lords, the fact that they didn’t speaks volumes.

    Do the Liberal Democrats bare any responsibility for PIP? Yes it was conceived under their term in coalition government, did they expect or could they have known it would be manipulated into the monstrosity that it is today? No, I do not think they did or could, Should they be allowed to influence and steer this back on to the path that they had intended and learn from the mistake, absolutely, that is what grown up politics and democracy is all about.

    Kind Regards


  • Jayne Mansfield 31st Mar '17 - 12:08am

    @ matt,
    I apologise for the delay in responding, I have been searching for the discussion page.

    I just wanted to say well done. You have been let down by so many, but you show a strength that few of us could muster in the circumstances. You have so much to offer and I so hope that the burden that you have to carry becomes lighter and more manageable in the near future.

    Best wishes.

  • I’m one of those people you know Those ones who have been through the adversarial dehumanising and degrading migration from DLA to PIP and can tell you I find your backslapping on this inappropriate, obnoxious and repulsive.
    If it weren’t for your party propping up the compassion-less Tories then there wouldn’t be a PIP would there, that isn’t a question just simply a statement of fact.
    Don’t make the mistake that this means that I approve of the actions of the Labour Party I don’t. I’m angry and appalled by the actions of all major parties where sick and disabled people are a political football to be used and abused for your own purposes whilst you forget the real people who have been harmed sometimes fatally by these policy ‘reforms’, reviews and backdoor secondary legislation changes never mind the countless people who have had their independence stolen from them and become prisoners in their own homes.
    So please tone your smugness down you’ve got nothing to be smug about and like I said your efforts at points scoring on this matter is wholly inappropriate.

  • There was supposed to be a motion debated in the house today

    Last night it was showing as being scheduled for today. No this morning it has dropped off the schedule.
    I am assuming this is because of the early general election motion, but this is only scheduled to last 90 minutes I believe.

    All the rest of the days business is going ahead, just the PIP motion has been scrapped. Anyone know why, or if has been moved to do a different date as I can not find anything on the parliamentary website.

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