Disabled people have the right to travel too

Back to all Motions

2023 National Disabled Members' Conference
5 July 2023
Carried as Amended

Disabled people including our Disabled Members could find themselves losing their Personal Independence Payments (PIP) if they go abroad for a holiday, for work or even to visit family.

Current government guidance says PIP claimants need to inform the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) if they’re planning to travel abroad for 28 days or more as this is a change in circumstances. As non-disabled people claiming Tax Credits only have to notify travel abroad that is over 8 weeks the government are already treating disabled people less favourably which is potentially discrimination.

But recent operational changes are making the situation even worse. Although the official government guidance officially refers to 28 days the DWP section of the government website states “You must contact the PIP enquiry line if you go abroad” to report a change of circumstances.

Disabled Members who have contacted the PIP helpline to tell them they are going abroad for just a couple of days have been asked personal and sensitive questions such as Where are you going? Why are you going? And How will you manage your care?

Depending on how you answer the questions you could be told you can travel or told it is a change to your circumstances. And as we know a change of circumstances can lead to your PIP being reviewed, cut or even stopped.

The website goes on to say that “You could be taken to court or have to pay a penalty if you give wrong information or do not report a change in your circumstances.”

The inconsistency in the guidance is causing our Disabled Members stress and anxiety as they don’t know what they need to report and if they will be penalised for going abroad. A petition has been created on the parliamentary website to stop these inconsistencies. We need 10,000 signatures by 15 November to make the government respond or 100,000 by the same date for the issue to be debated in Parliament. The link to the petition is Amend guidance for PIP claimants on advising the DWP of travel abroad – Petitions (parliament.uk).

Conference disabled people, including our Disabled Members, should have the same right to travel abroad as non-disabled people. Travel does not change a person’s care or mobility needs and we shouldn’t be treated less favourably than non disabled people when we want to travel abroad.

Conference calls on National Disabled Members Committee to work with the NEC to:

1)Promote the petition on all UNISON’s social media and e-newsletters and send it to all Branches to encourage members to sign before 15 November

2)Launch a campaign to change the rules on reporting travel abroad for PIP claimants to the eight weeks rule that applies to people claiming Tax Credits

3)Work with Labour Link to lobby for a future Labour government will introduce an eight week rule for PIP claimants travelling abroad