The report, 'Reversing from Recovery', makes it clear that many fewer disabled people will be eligible for Motability cars under PIP rules. To quote the report, we're looking at "a 27% reduction in the number of working age disabled people, and a 17% reduction in the number of disabled people overall" who can access Motability cars. There will be major effects on the economy as a result, including a £342 million drop in contribution to GDP as a result of the changes. Many disabled people's ability to work will also be drastically reduced. In a time of economic difficulties, this is one cut that will harm, not help, the economy.
As many disabled people will be able to tell you, the changes are going to have a drastic effect on our lives, as well as on the economy. As today's report shows, "85% of Motability car users say the car has a positive impact on their ability to access health services, whilst more than 1 in 3 of those able to work say it maintains or improves their ability to undertake paid employment." Transport is still so appallingly inaccessible for many of us, as DPAC's Right To Ride protest recently highlighted. Other disabled and long-term ill people have medical and social needs for cars that other disabled people do not, and those needs are getting worse as the cuts mean more people are losing the support that might help, like social care. And as we all know, this is not a free car - we pay for it with our DLA Mobility Component. We're not talking about a free ride here, but a positive contribution that disabled people make to the economy and which in turn means we can have reliable, maintained cars through a lease scheme that we can afford. (Don't underestimate the importance of 'reliable', either, for people who have serious health difficulties or live in vulnerable situations.)
Disabled people have been concerned for some time now that our access to Motability is going to be affected by PIP. As we've been arguing, PIP moves the goalposts to such an extent that many people who now qualify for a car under DLA will no longer be eligible under PIP. Despite rather vague promises in the House of Commons (scroll down to Anna Soubry's question to see the non-answer), the government is failing to respond to these concerns. And when it comes to Motability, it looks as though it's not just disabled people who are set to lose out.
Although of course, we're going to lose out the most. I'm really quite terrified about this one. My Motability car has meant that I can pursue a university course and do part-time work as well. It looks like I won't be eligible under the PIP rules, and that will probably mean I can no longer do any paid work or studying. These are the kind of situations that the government should be worried about, but PIP shows that their back-to-work rhetoric is not actually based in reality. As we already knew. As the report puts it, "We’ll see disabled people less independent, less likely to be able to get or keep a job and more likely to close businesses or give up self-employment. Having welfare reform plans which interfere with employment prospects is nonsensical. The Government should think again."
'Reversing from Recovery' is published by the WeareSpartacus campaign group, who have drawn on Motability's own reports. They've provided template letters that you can send to your MP, the Lords or your local newspaper - go to http://wearespartacus.org.uk/letters/ for details. To spread the word, use the #ReversingRecovery hashtag on twitter. This is the kind of news that the government will not be wanting us to talk about. Let's get talking about it.
- Details of the Government's proposals for PIP, including projections of the number of people expected to be eligible for the enhanced mobility rate, can be found in the DWP consultation document, 'Personal Independence Payment: Assessment thresholds and consultation' (January 2012), available at http://wearespartacus.org.uk/reversing-from-recovery/ .