We are a society
We all have different views on welfare. However, for our sick and disabled, our empathy and understanding needs to be better. ‘Empathy’ means, the ability to understand and share the feelings off one another. For me, our current welfare benefits system is failing to support the needs off our sick and disabled.
Under the coalition government of (2010 – 2015). Disability living allowance also known as (DLA) started to change. In 2013, Personal Independence Payments (PIP), had been introduced. For those off you who do not understand what PIP is. It is a benefit, which promotes independence for those with long-term health conditions. There are two parts. Firstly, a daily living component, which helps the claimants with every day living. Secondly, a mobility component, which helps the claimants to get around.
In 2012, there was over three million DLA claimants in the UK, the government estimated there will be 600,000 fewer disabled people will qualify for PIP by 2018.
Should this be acceptable? 600,000 fewer people who will qualify for PIP, Was this because DLA was a easier benefit to complete. Or possibly, because PIP is a lot stricter and harder for claimants to complete.
A stand out issue I have come across regularly, is the poor treatment of mental health claimants. In March 2017, the government changed the eligibility criteria for the mobility component of PIP. Excluding claimants who experience ‘psychological distress’ from receiving the advanced rate of the benefit.
Since March 2017, claimants with anxiety disorder and bipolar disorder, for example, had not been receiving the highest mobility rate. For Individuals fearing to leave their house, due to their mental health problems had not been viewed the same. In contrast with the Individual who is not able to leave their house due to their limited physical ability. According to the DWP as instructed by the government. To put this into context. The magnitude of the governments attempt to prevent those with mental health problems, from getting the support they need, is 164,000 individuals. These individuals had been assessed in the period between March 2017 and February 2018.
High court Decision
In December 2017 the High courts ruled that the new eligibility criteria discriminated against people with mental health problems. Mr. Justice Mostyn said, ” In my judgement, the 2017 regulations introduced criteria which blatantly discriminate against those with mental health impairments which cannot be objectively justified”.
Although the High courts came to the correct decision. We cannot help but wonder what this would’ve meant for thousands of mentally Ill people. As a society would we have been saying you’re just not that important.
Mental Health Is real
There is no cure for mental Illness. There is no quick fix, Individuals learn to cope with their illness.
A week before my friend received her letter. Telling her she would need to go for a PIP re-assessment. She rung her doctor, to ask if her antidepressant medication could be lowered. Three weeks after her PIP assessment, she rung her doctor again to ask if her antidepressant medication could be increased, as she had been experiencing severe lows.
PIP is not about easy money. It is a way forward for the claimant. A way for the claimant, to lead an independent life.
The Dutch have a saying ‘ If I had a broken leg, you wouldn’t make me stand on it’. The attitude towards Individuals living with mental health problems is very different. I believe this has a lot to do with the ‘viability’ factor. No-one can see mental illness and this is the same for PIP assessors. They cannot see an individual’s illness. They will make their judgement upon what they see from the claimant on that day. This mentality has a terrible effect upon PIP claimants.
Going back to the beginning of this article. I stated what empathy is. If you cannot see something, It doesn’t mean it’s not there. To actively support those in our society we have to be able to understand them. This includes supporting our sick and disabled by the distribution of positive and helpful welfare benefits.