Mobility - Activity 1: Planning and following a journey
Activity 1 considers a claimant's ability to follow the route of a familiar or unfamiliar journey as well as to plan and undertake a journey. As with all the other activities, a claimant is to be assessed as satisfying a descriptor only if they can do so reliably.
The descriptors for Activity 1 are -
- Can plan and follow the route of a journey unaided. 0 points
- Needs prompting to be able to undertake any journey to avoid overwhelming psychological distress to the claimant. 4 points
- For reasons other than psychological distress cannot plan the route of a journey. 8 points
- For reasons other than psychological distress cannot follow the route of an unfamiliar journey without another person, assistance dog or orientation aid. 10 points
- Cannot undertake any journey because it would cause overwhelming psychological distress to the claimant. 10 points
- For reasons other than psychological distress cannot follow the route of a familiar journey without another person, an assistance dog or an orientation aid. 12 points
Source: Part 3 of Schedule 1 to the Social Security (Personal Independence Payment) Regulations 2013 (SI.No.377/2013) as amended (with effect from 16 March 2017) by regulation 2 of the Social Security (Personal Independence Payment) (Amendment) Regulations 2017 (SI.No.194/2017)
NB - the March 2017 amendments made by SI.No.194/2017 to descriptors c, d and f - that added the words 'For reasons other than psychological distress' - have been held to be unlawful by the High Court in  EWHC 3375 (Admin). Amendment regulations, in force from 15 June 2018 (SR.No.121/2018), have been issued in Northern Ireland to remove the words from descriptors c, d and f. Until the regulations that apply to Great Britain are amended, the descriptors should be read as if those words are not part of them. For further details, see our case law commentary below.
Terms used in the PIP descriptors are defined in regulations and, in relation to Activity 2, are -
- “aid or appliance” - (a) means any device which improves, provides or replaces [the claimant's] impaired physical or mental function; and (b) includes a prosthesis;
- “assistance dog” means a dog trained to guide or assist a person with a sensory impairment;
- “orientation aid” means a specialist aid designed to assist disabled people to follow a route safely;
- “prompting” means reminding, encouraging or explaining by another person;
- “psychological distress” means distress related to an enduring mental health condition or an intellectual or cognitive impairment;
- “unaided” means without - (a) the use of an aid or appliance; or (b) supervision, prompting or assistance.
Commentary: A three-judge panel in  UKUT 531 (AAC) (the MH case) considered the meaning of 'to plan and follow a journey' (descriptors c, d, and f) which had been subject to conflicting interpretations in earlier cases -  UKUT 344 (AAC),  UKUT 386 (AAC), and  UKUT 694 (AAC). The panel held, in a decision dated 28 November 2016, that the descriptors could be met by a person experiencing overwhelming psychological distress. To reverse the effect of this ruling, the government amended the PIP Regulations from 16 March 2017 to explicitly exclude psychological distress as a means of meeting descriptors c, d. and f.
However, in December 2017, the High Court ruled in  EWHC 3375 (Admin) that the March 2017 amendments were unlawful and should be quashed and, in a written statement in the House of Commons on 19 January 2018, the Work and Pensions Secretary announced that 'after careful consideration' she had decided not to appeal the High Court's judgment and would implement the three-judge panel decision in MH. The Minister for Disabled People has stated in written answers on 30 January 2018 that anyone owed arrears as a result of the MH case would be paid either from the date of their claim or the date of the judgment, whichever is later.
In  UKUT 420 (AAC) Judge Jacobs confirms that, although the DWP guidance on Activity 1 defines a journey as being a 'local' journey, the legislation does not state this and there is therefore no requirement for the descriptor to be assessed in relation to a local journey.
 UKUT 480 (AAC) confirms that a 'SatNav' is not an orientation aid unless it has been specially designed or modified to assist the disabled.
- High Court rules that amendments to PIP mobility activity 1 are unlawful
-  EWHC 3375 (Admin)
- A ‘SatNav’ is not an orientation aid unless specially designed or modified to assist the disabled
-  UKUT 480 (AAC)
Factors to consider when assessing visual impairment and ability to complete activity ‘safely’ in relation to PIP mobility activity 1 (planning and following a journey)
-  UKUT 456 (AAC)
Following a journey includes both navigation and ability to make progress which may be limited if a person experiences overwhelming psychological distress
-  UKUT 531 (AAC)
For the purposes of Activity 1 a journey does not need to be local / illiteracy that does not arise from a mental condition is irrelevant
-  UKUT 420 (AAC)
Requirement to consider the ‘reliability’ criteria when assessing mobility descriptors / Whether a satnav can be an ‘orientation aid’ when following a route
-  UKUT 304 (AAC)
Claimant with visual impairment and light sensitivity entitled to enhanced rate of PIP mobility component / Whether an eye patch is an orientation aid
-  UKUT 240 (AAC)