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DBC: Who benefits? A benefits update

13 Jul 2015

Epilepsy Action joined the Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC) and the Who Benefits? campaign in 2013.  A great deal of work has been completed to date – so what has been achieved and what will happen next?

The Who Benefits? campaign has been running for two years. It is a collaboration between over 100 charities – including Epilepsy Action – along with professional networks and community groups.

The campaign is designed to show the huge range of reasons why people may sometimes need help from the benefits system. In doing so, we can change the debate surrounding this sometimes controversial topic.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to the Who Benefits? campaign by sharing stories about their experience of benefits support. More than 2,000 people (including people with and without disabilities) shared their personal story with the campaign.

On 3 July, the Who Benefits? campaign released Telling the real story of benefits. It is a very powerful collection of these moving personal stories. They are told by people who need the support of benefits and explaining why that support is crucial.

UK moneyOf those who shared their story, the main reasons they needed support was due to:

  • Illness or disability (in half of all cases)
  • Unemployment (in more than 20 per cent of cases)
  • Caring responsibilities (10 per cent stated childcare responsibilities and just under five per cent stated other caring responsibilities)
  • Low wages and/or the cost of housing (7.5 per cent)

Telling the real story of benefits uses people’s experiences to address the stigmatised language being used in the current benefits debate. Themes that emerged across everyone’s story showed that:

  • Benefits are a vital safety net
  • You never know when you might need support
  • Working people need support too
  • People on benefits want to work
  • Benefits are not a lifestyle choice
  • Benefits can have a positive effect on lives
  • People on benefits contribute to society
  • We all benefit from benefits

What can you do?

As part of the campaign you can:

  • Make your MP aware of this
  • Challenge negative language and stereotypes relating to people who are supported through benefits

PIP and the 20-metre test: crucial court case

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) changed the eligibility criteria for the mobility part of the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) in 2013.

As a result of this change, people who can walk 20 metres or more (even if they use a stick) do not qualify for the higher rate of the mobility part of PIP.  Previously people qualified for higher rate mobility if they could walk up to a maximum of 49 meters.

Mr Steven Sumpter applied for a judicial review regarding the fairness of the consultation process used in reducing the mobility threshold. His case was heard on 24 July 2014, when the High Court rejected the judicial review. Mr Sumpter appealed the decision to reject the judicial review.

Epilepsy Action will keep you up dated on the outcome of the appeal. But all DBC members have been asked to raise awareness of this court case.

Read Epilepsy Action’s original submission to the DWP consultation.

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Disability benefits: feeling the pinch?

This month, changes to the benefits system may leave some people with disabilities worse off than under the previous rules – and the system is confusing at the best of times. Epilepsy Action’s Nicole Crosby-McKenna explains the changes and what to do if you’re affected

 

 

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