Today, Maria Miller insisted: "I want to reassure disabled people that if you need support you will continue to get it under PIP". Well having looked at the criteria for higher mobility component of the new PIP, I can categorically state that isn't true. I currently qualify for higher rate mobility under DLA but I won't under PIP. Under the new rules for PIP if a disabled person CANNOT walk more than 50 metres but doesn't need a wheelchair then they will no longer be entitled to higher rate mobility, which in short means access to a car through the motability scheme.
Please re-read that sentence and then think through the callousness of that statement and what that means to disabled claimants, like me.It means my world would be reduced to my home, and a stumble to the end of my road at best. My world, which has already been turned upside down by my worsening health, would diminish so much I'd have to question whether there is any point fighting to stay off the lung transplant list anymore.
Lord Freud said he was "personally committed to making Personal Independence Payment an effective, efficient benefit that targets support where it can help those facing the largest challenges in leading an independent life". Yet he was saying this already knowing what draft proposals for PIP were and that they effectively meant that independence would be taken away, that we would return to a time where disabled people are confined to their own homes.
My concerns for the scrapping of DLA were centered around the health assessments that all claimants would be expected to face. The disabled community know that similar health assessments run by Atos to qualify for ESA are fraught with errors. Currently 40% of decisions that people are 'fit to work' are overturned at appeal.
But how wrong was I. It isn't the health assessment I should have been worried about but the thresholds set by the Government over what constitutes 'disability'. I can barely walk down the road my lungs are now so ruined and scarred by Cystic Fibrosis. My heart beat at rest is 120, I daren't find out what it is when I try to move. I'm always out of breath even when sitting down not moving, when I walk I can get so out of breath that I think perhaps I should call an ambulance so scared am I that I won't be able to calm my breathing down. This is my private business though, I don't wish to burden other people with these thoughts, I am coping with my ill health and I have the mental strength to do so, but I only ask for the help that I need. Why should I be forced to write this, effectively begging the Government to rethink their callousness?
Last night when I read the thresholds for qualifying for higher rate mobility I was distraught, angry, scared for the future. I've been married less than one year, I have hopes for the future, even though I know that future won't be as long as everyone else's, I'm not ready to be stuck in my flat, hidden away from society. I feel unwanted by the Government, a burden, a problem, someone they can't be bothered with anymore, someone they don't wish to be outside contributing and integrating with society. Today is a very bad day for me.