People with multiple sclerosis spent yesterday huddled outside Westminster in protest of the cruel PIP 20 metre rule before delivering a petition for the rule to be scrapped for Secretary of State for Work and pensions Esther McVey.

The protesters spent the day trapped in PIPville, a fictional representation of the homes they feel trapped in due to the 20 metre rule, installed by the MS Society. The MS Society say the 20 metre rule is the main reason why people living with MS have their benefits cut: under this rule, those who can walk one step over 20 metres do not qualify for the right level of support.

The charity says that at least 9,400 people living with MS have lost the high rate of PIP due to this unfair rule in the move from Disability Living Allowance or as a new claimant – and by the time PIP is fully instated, a further 6,400 could lose out.

A petition was also delivered, calling for Esther McVey to scrap the rule, which was signed by over 36,000 people.

John Stillitz is one such person who is trapped in PIPville. He said: “Under DLA I had a Motability car which I used to get to hospital appointments, continue with my charity work and basically live a normal life. Using public transport just isn’t an option for me so the car is my lifeline to independence. I can’t walk a few steps without pain and I’d need a taxi just to get to my nearest bus stop.

“After being transferred to PIP I lost the higher rate of mobility and was no longer allowed to keep my car. The DWP decided I could walk more than 20 metres but less than 50 metres, but at my assessment I was seated during the whole interview. I was never asked to demonstrate how far I can walk, and had my mobility scooter next to me. The 20 metre rule doesn’t make any sense and it’s failing people with MS.”

Morna Simpkins, director of MS Society Scotland, said: “Thousands of people with MS are wrongly having their benefit cut because of the 20 metre rule. MS can be painful and often exhausting, as well as expensive, so losing this support can have a huge impact on a person’s independence. We’ve heard from people with MS who’ve told us it’s effectively trapped them in their own home.

“The Government says PIP is meant to support those with the greatest needs and that the 20 metre rule is the most effective way of identifying people with the most limited mobility. Yet no evidence has been provided for using 20 metres and they have never explained why they think that people who can walk just 21 metres can live independently with much less support.

“PIP is failing people with MS. Having MS is hard enough; it shouldn’t be made harder by a senseless and arbitrary rule. More than 36,000 people who’ve signed our petition agree – the 20 metre rule needs to go.”

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