The brilliant Sam Barnett-Cormack has been putting together a simplified version of the criteria for PIP (Personal Independence Payments, the replacement for DLA or Disability Living Allowance)
As soon as it's 100% signed off, I will of course be sharing it far and wide. It is designed to help us all respond to the Government consultation on PIP criteria, not as a guide to applying for the new benefit.
Campaigners have argued strongly that we should not be expected to pass law for a new disability benefit until we knew exactly who would qualify and under what circumstances. Despite this, the Government only released the PIP criteria the day before the vote in the Lords on PIP. The criteria are desperately complicated and there was no practical way that anyone - charities, DPOs, media or campaigners could have considered them before the crucial vote.
I just read through our simplified version.
Please remember that we are constantly assured that "No-one who is genuinely disabled has anything to fear from PIP" (Grayling, Miller, IDS)
I won't go into everything, there's no way I could here. I will however, go into how they will affect people like me with bowel disease. This will involve much discussion of pooh. You've been warned.
Under ESA, I simply would not qualify. This is because the "descriptors" ignore pain, fatigue, vomiting and diarrhoea. The only possible way someone with bowel disease could qualify is if they are incontinent. But not just a bit incontinent often. No, I must experience a "full and uncontrolled evacuation of the bowel" at least once a month.
Translation? Poohing yourself at work a bit most days is not a reason not to work. Poohing all over your boss is.
Under the new PIP criteria it appears to be even worse.
If you use a stoma or catheter and manage it yourself, you are not considered incontinent and will get just 2 points. You need 8 to qualify for PIP
If you are incontinent but can clear up after yourself, it doesn't count.
They don't even consider changing the bed sheets or your clothes as "needing help"
The only thing that is classed as "help" is if you literally need someone to clean your physical person.
If you have a stoma it does not matter if you can clean your own bum or not.
The only other possibly way someone with bowel disease might qualify is under "feeding".
If you are fed by tube, as long as you can set up the feeds yourself you will get just 2 points - you need 8 to qualify for the "Daily Living" (previously "Care") component.
**Technical point but I need urgent clarification on TPN under this descriptor (Total Parenteral Nutrition) This was always an automatic qualifier as it involves being fed into a central artery and must be done under strict sterile conditions. The risk of life threatening infection is great. You can however, in theory, be trained to do it yourself at home, in which case, under the criteria it would seem not to qualify.
I would simply ask that every MP reads this article. Do we have anything to fear? I'd say we do. And this is just bowel disease. Is it humane? You decide. Is it based in any way on the actual experiences of incontinence and the costs (financial and social) of dealing with it? Clearly not. Does it mean that my life is not riddled daily with the pain, difficulties and embarrassment of bowel disease? Of course not. If I can feed myself by tube does this mean my life is no longer threatened by infection, malnutrition, possible obstruction or perforation of the bowel? No, if I am feeding myself by tube, it means I am more likely to be at risk of all of those things.
Finally, when it comes to the mobility section, you know when you were writing essays for school and you started quite well, then lost the will to live and ended up concluding it in about three sentences so you could watch Dallas? Well that's how the mobility section of the PIP criteria comes across. It doesn't even make sense and our finest Spartacus minds have not really been able to fathom exactly what the Government intend.
I imagine this means the Government don't actually have a clue themselves.