A petition launched by the UK MS Society, which calls on the UK government to improve the eligibility criteria for a disability benefit for people with MS, has attracted 22,000 signatures.

This petition is at the heart of the organisation’s campaign to abolish the ’20 metre rule’ that decides the eligibility of people with MS to receive the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) benefit. Under the current criteria, if a person can walk more than 20 metres, they do not qualify for higher level mobility support.

PIP is a vital benefit for many people with MS, helping those affected to manage the extra costs associated with MS, stay in employment and participate fully in society.

Knock-on effect

According to a report launched by the UK MS Society, one in three people surveyed have had their support reduced or removed altogether since the transition from the Disability Living Allowance (DLA) benefit to PIP five years ago. The organisation claims that the 20 metre rule is largely responsible for this trend. 65% of those surveyed said losing this support had made their MS worse, with 39% reducing their spending on food and 30% reducing their spending on crucial treatments such as physiotherapy and counselling.

The report also revealed the knock-on effect on local health services; 39% of people with MS who had their support reduced said they are turning to their local doctor and Accident & Emergency services. The UK MS Society estimates the annual cost for this to be at least an extra £7.7 million.

The UK MS Society is therefore calling on the Government to scrap the 20 metre rule for the highest rate of PIP mobility support and to work with disabled people, charities and healthcare professionals to design an agreed appropriate alternative.

To support the MS Society’s campaign to remove the 20 metre rule and add your name to the petition, click here. You can also follow the campaign on social media by searching for #ScrapPIP20m.