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Disabled People Stuck At Home Over PIP Travel Pass Problems

January 23, 2023

    Disabled people are “stuck in their homes” and feel excluded from society because travel passes have stopped working, a charity has said.

    These allow them to use Transport for Wales (TfW) services for reduced fares.

    But users must prove evidence of receiving a benefit called Personal Independence Payments (PIPs), and many are still waiting for assessments.

    The Department of Work and Pensions, which assesses people, said waiting times have “greatly improved”.

    “I don’t leave the house,” said Lara Warlow, 42, of Bridgend.

    “I’ve kind of got to the stage where I’m not even noticing that I don’t do anything any more, it’s just the way my life is now.”

    Lara struggles to afford travel without the reduced fares. She has been unable to work since 2017 after an accident where she fell 30ft (9 metres) from a window.

    She was left with vocal chord paralysis, hearing loss and Bell’s palsy, which causes weakness in facial muscles.

    The only social thing she has done in the last couple of months is a weekly samba drumming class in Cardiff.

    While she is waiting for her PIP assessment, she has been limiting her travel to save money, but admits it could be months away.

    TfW offers a number of concessions to people with disabilities, including a third off for some services.

    Disability Wales said Lara’s is a common story, with more and more people telling the organisation they cannot go out because discounted passes have stopped working, meaning limited funds will not stretch.

    “It’s making disabled people really anxious because their day-to-day lives tend to cost more than non-disabled people,” said the charity’s Alex Osborne.

    “Then when we are at a time like now, with the cost of everything increasing, they haven’t got a lot of money left over each month.

    “The fact that they now have to try and pay full price for their travel, it means they can’t afford that, and it means that they’re just not going out or they’re having to give up something else.”

    She said it should be made easier for people to prove their status to access discounted services, adding many felt “excluded and stuck in their homes because they can’t renew their travel passes”.

    Ms Osborne called on TfW to consider accepting other documents as proof of eligibility, adding: “Maybe accepting a blue badge as evidence, or even a doctor’s note.”

    The Welsh government, which sets travelcard criteria rules, said it is “fully committed to supporting the rights of disabled people in Wales and are working closely with local authorities to ensure assessments are carried out in a timely manner”.

    TfW said: “We give individuals plenty of notice of up-coming reviews so they can make PIP appointments to get the evidence required for a disabled person’s bus pass.

    “If someone is deemed to be permanently disabled by their local authority, we no longer ask them to prove their eligibility on a regular basis.”

    The UK government’s Department of Work and Pensions, which is responsible for PIP assessments, said it was “committed to ensuring people can access financial support through PIP in a timely manner”.

    A spokesman said it was working constantly to make improvements, adding: “The latest statistics show clearance times have greatly improved, returning to pre-pandemic levels.”

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