Contact details

As well as being a freelance writer I am also a qualified counsellor and I work for a low cost counselling service in Exeter and for the NHS Gender Clinic also in Exeter.

Simultaneously, I work as a Disability Member of the First Tier Tribunal, Social Entitlement Chamber sitting on disability benefit tribunals on an ad hoc basis.

As a writer I specialise in writing about disability and health.

My articles have been published in the Guardian, Times, OUCH! [BBC disability website], Disability Now, Broadcast, Lifestyle [Motability magazine], The Practising Midwife, 'Junior, Pregnancy & Baby', Writers' News, Able, Getting There [Transport for London magazine], Junior, Community Care, DPPi [Disability, Pregnancy & Parenthood International]. I have also had articles commissioned by Daily Mail.

For more information about me and for examples of my writing please see below.

If you would like me to write an article for your publication, about any aspect of disability, please do get in touch:

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Government consultation on the PIP assessment 'moving around' activity - URGENT action needed

The Government is running a consultation on the PIP 'moving around' criteria - it is vital that as many organisations, professionals and disabled people themselves respond to halt their proposed change:
In a nutshell to be eligible for the enhanced rate of PIP [Personal Independence Payment] you mustn't be able to walk more than 20 m, yes a mere 20m.  Previously the proposed distance was a more realistic and better justified 50 m. 
The deadline for responding to this consultation is 5 August 2013 so please do hurry and respond, use the We Are Spartacus webpage here to help formulate your response:
My response was as followed:
Dear Sir/Madam
I feel very strongly that the 50 m PIP moving around criteria should not be reduced to 20 m.
It represents a totally unjustified moving of the disability goal posts so that people who, like myself, have had their mobility difficulties recognised and acknowledged through receipt of Higher Rate of DLA may all of a sudden no longer be eligible for the enhanced rate of PIP. There has been no miracle cure here just a cynical shifting of goal posts.
To limit receipt of the enhanced rate of PIP to those who can effectively only move about between rooms in their house and no further is simply ridiculous and the Government has failed to provide any research justification for the 20m criteria.
Reducing the formerly well established 50 m limit even goes against your own second draft of PIP assessment criteria, Nov 2011 where you state '50 metres is considered to be the distance that an individual is required to be able to walk in order to achieve a basic level of independence'. Where is the justification that now only people who are unable to walk more than 20m should be eligible for enhanced rate mobility component?
Indeed for years the 50 m benchmark has guided access to the built environment and widely used in relation to disability benefits.
Using a 20 m benchmark is unrealistic - it simply does not provide any practical level of mobility. There will be many disabled people with considerable mobility difficulties who may be able to walk 20 m but not over 50, who will lose access to the Motability Scheme which will potentially have a huge impact on their independence , for some it will jeopardise or even mean termination of their employment options/status, with repercussions on other parts of the benefit system.
It's hard to believe that reducing the limit from 50 to 20 m isn't an infringment of the Human Rights Act.
Maintaining the 50 m limit acknowledges that those with mobility difficulties have a right to a certain quality of life, free from isolation, with the option of persisting with practical opportunities eg doing the school run, GP/hospital appointments, shopping, as well as social and employment opportunities secured through having a relatively small amount of help through the enhanced rate of PIP.
Please do not take away the independence of hundreds of thousands of disabled people who have considerable mobility difficulties, the help they need is relatively small but the impact of not having this help would be hugely negative, let alone unjustified.
Yours faithfully
Emma Bowler