I have just received a message from rightsnet, drawing my attention to their excellent new website, designed to help PIP claimants and their advisers.
This is an initiative by Lasa Ltd (www.lasa.org.uk) which describes itself in these terms on its website:
Lasa is a social welfare law and tech charity
Established in 1984, we’re dedicated to supporting organisations in their use of technology and the delivery of social welfare law advice to the disadvantaged communities they serve.
What we do:
We do a whole heap of stuff to help everyone from frontline third sector orgs to government departments (and everyone in-between) to deliver efficient, high quality services.
For this pipinfo project, Lasa obtained funding from the Law Society Charity and the Legal Education Trust, who are both doing so much to promote novel ways of delivering advice on welfare issues.
Wouldn’t it be nice if a few well-heeled hedge fund managers (or others of their ilk) put a million or so pounds into building up services of this kind?
As one would expect the pipinfo site is really helpful to lawyers advising clients in law centres or other advice centres who employ legal staff. As the first chairman of BAILII (www.bailii.org) , which has always believed passionately in free access to our basic caselaw for everybody , I was thrilled to see that the site incorporates links to the text of relevant Upper Tribunal decisions – and rightsnet are asking people to help them to expand the usefulness of the site.
Here are two samples of the contents of the site. First, the general introduction:
Choose from the options above for details of regulations and case law relating to personal independence payment. You can search by activity, issue or health condition to find out more about the legal framework and how the Upper Tribunal has interpreted the law.
We hope that pipinfo will help advisers in assisting people to make a new claim for personal independence payment, and in challenging decisions to refuse, or award a lower rate of, the benefit.
And then, the text of the last of the 12 Activities that are embraced in the PIP scheme:
Mobility – Activity 2: Moving around
Activity 2 considers a claimant’s physical ability to move around without severe discomfort, such as breathlessness, pain or fatigue. This includes the ability to stand and then move up to 20 metres, up to 50 metres, up to 200 metres and over 200 metres. As with all the other activities, a claimant is to be assessed as satisfying a descriptor only if they can do so reliably.
The descriptors for Activity 2 are –
- Can stand and then move more than 200 metres, either aided or unaided. 0 points
- Can stand and then move more than 50 metres but no more than 200 metres, either aided or unaided. 4 points
- Can stand and then move unaided more than 20 metres but no more than 50 metres. 8 points
- Can stand and then move using an aid or appliance more than 20 metres but no more than 50 metres. 10 points
- Can stand and then move more than 1 metre but no more than 20 metres, either aided or unaided. 12 points
- Cannot, either aided or unaided – (i) stand; or (ii) move more than 1 metre. 12 points
Terms used in the PIP descriptors are defined in regulations and, in relation to Activity 2, are –
“aided” means with – (a) the use of an aid or appliance; or (b) supervision, prompting or assistance;
“aid or appliance” – (a) means any device which improves, provides or replaces C’s impaired physical or mental function; and (b) includes a prosthesis;
“assistance” means physical intervention by another person and does not include speech;
“prompting” means reminding, encouraging or explaining by another person;
“stand” means stand upright with at least one biological foot on the ground;
“supervision” means the continuous presence of another person for the purpose of ensuring C’s safety;
“unaided” means without – (a) the use of an aid or appliance; or (b) supervision, prompting or assistance.
Commentary: In the unpublished case CPIP/2377/2015 the effects of pain, its severity and frequency, and the extent of any rests, are all noted as relevant to the question of whether a claimant can complete a moving around descriptor ‘to an acceptable standard’. The effects of pain are also considered in  UKUT 326 (AAC) where Judge Markus holds that even if someone may be able to carry out a moving around descriptor repeatedly and within a reasonable time, they still may not be able to complete it ‘to an acceptable standard’ if they do so with difficulties such as pain or breathlessness.
This is a real goldmine – but again, could there not be mutual cross-links with the Citizens Advice and Advice now sites?
They all have something valuable to contribute to those, like me, who sometimes have to do their best to help people through the thicket of unfamiliar bureaucratic red tape, and need to know about all the trustworthy sources of assistance that are now on offer.