Tories stripping MS sufferers of mobility

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Protest against the privateer benefit assessor Maximus
Protest against the privateer benefit assessor Maximus

THE TORIES have been stripping sufferers of multiple sclerosis of the vital funds they need to buy mobility scooters and vehicles if they can walk a single step over the course of 20 metres. Charity MS Society has called for the 20 metres rule to be scrapped.

People with MS have been losing vital support since Personal Independence Payments (PIP) began to replace Disability Living Allowance (DLA) in 2013. A new report, PIP: A step too far, reveals just how much harm PIP is causing.

In a UK survey of people with MS, of those who had support taken from them in the transfer from DLA to PIP: • 65% said the transition had a negative effect on their MS • 39% increased their use of GP services • 39% had to reduce spending on food • 30% reduced spending on treatments or therapies (such as physiotherapy and counselling) • 27% had to borrow money from family or friends.

Genevieve Edwards, MS Society Director of External Affairs, said: ‘Contrary to the government’s insistence that PIP is meant to help those with the greatest needs, the truth is it’s causing enormous harm to people with MS, with many losing their independence as a result.

‘The 20 metre rule was strongly opposed by charities, people with MS and medical professionals when it was first introduced. And we’re still waiting for the government to provide any sort of evidence of how it helps those who need support the most. Enough is enough; PIP needs to change, starting with the government scrapping the 20 metre rule.’

Meanwhile, the number of people winning PIP benefit appeals has hit an all-time high. Some 14,805 people (71%) had their assessment for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) overturned by a tribunal in the first three months of this year. Tory ministers have been told to ‘get a grip’ after the number of disabled people winning benefit appeals hit an all-time high.

PIP is worth up to £141 a week to manage everyday costs of being disabled. 3.4 million people have been assessed for PIP, and 1.8 million receive it. But more than 100,000 people have been wrongly rejected for PIP. And there have been repeated complaints about the quality of assessments – run by private firms Atos and Capita.