Twenty-sixth Report of Session 2016-17 Contents
Social Security (Personal Independence Payment) (Amendment) Regulations 2017
1.In its letter to the Department of 8th March 2017, the Committee requested a memorandum on the following points:
Explain whether the amendments made by regulation 2(4) have the effect that a person with a mental condition (unaccompanied by a physical condition) can never be entitled to the mobility component of personal independence payment at the enhanced rate and—
- if so, whether that is consistent with section 79(2)(b) of the Welfare Reform Act 2012, and
- if not, in what sorts of circumstances such an entitlement can arise.
2.The Department’s response to the Committee’s points is set out below.
3.The Department confirms that the amendments made by regulation 2(4) do not have the effect that a person with a mental condition (unaccompanied by a physical condition) can never be entitled to the mobility component of personal independence payment (“PIP”) at the enhanced rate. Examples are given at paragraph 5 below.
4.In order to standardise assessments across different health conditions that are not easily compared, a claimant’s entitlement to PIP is assessed by reference to their functional impairments, and not according to whether the source of those impairments is a physical or a mental condition. As a result, the PIP assessment enables a more accurate, objective, consistent and transparent consideration of individuals, to identify those with the greatest need. It also avoids the practical difficulty that it may not always be straightforward to determine whether particular limitations that a claimant faces stem from a physical condition or a mental condition (or a combination of the two). For example, some conditions, such as Chronic Fatigue Symptom (CFS), also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), have complex causes which are still not well understood, but which may involve both physical and psychological factors. Distress is not itself a “mental condition”, but rather a symptom which may come and go at different times and with varying frequency or causes depending on the individual.
5.The following is a non-exhaustive list of examples of situations where a person with a mental condition (unaccompanied by a physical condition) could receive the mobility component of PIP at the enhanced rate:
- A person (person A) with a cognitive impairment who cannot, due to their impairment, work out where to go, follow directions or deal with unexpected changes in their journey, even when the journey is familiar, would score 12 points under descriptor f in mobility activity 1 (“planning and following journeys”), and hence be entitled to the enhanced rate of the mobility component. Examples of such conditions could include dementia, or a learning disability such as Down’s Syndrome. (Some people covered by this example may experience psychological distress as well, and may also meet descriptor b, requiring “prompting” – i.e. reminding, encouraging or explaining – from another person in order to be able to undertake a journey. They will still receive 12 points under descriptor f and be entitled to the enhanced rate.)
- A person (person B) with a developmental disorder could qualify on a similar basis to person A if the disorder affects their ability to work out where to go, follow directions or deal with unexpected changes in their journey. If their disorder results in them having difficulty assessing and responding to risks, or in impulsivity, then they could also score 12 points under descriptor f on the basis that they need to be accompanied for their own safety. Examples of developmental disorders which could have these effects include Autistic Spectrum Disorder and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
- A person (person C) who suffers psychosomatic pain could qualify for the enhanced rate through satisfying descriptors e or f in mobility activity 2 (“moving around”). The case of NK v SSWP  UKUT 146 (AAC) concerned a claimant who suffered significant pain when moving around, but the pain resulted from a mental condition rather than any physical impairment. The Upper Tribunal found that the claimant could score points towards an award of the mobility component under mobility activity 2, even though her pain did not have a physical cause.
- A person (person D) who has chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and experiences symptoms including significant fatigue following physical exertion, muscular and joint pain and balance problems, together with psychological difficulties which manifest as depression and panic attacks, could qualify for the enhanced rate under mobility activity 2, or by scoring points on a combination of mobility activity 1 (4 points under descriptor b, for requiring prompting to avoid psychological distress when undertaking any journey) and mobility activity 2 (8 points under descriptor c, for being able to stand and then move unaided more than 20m but no more than 50m). As explained above, Chronic Fatigue Symptom (CFS), also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), has complex causes which are still not well understood, but which may involve both physical and psychological factors.
Department for Work and Pensions
14 March 2017