-50 Days Remaining

Thursday 14th
posted by Morning Star in Britain

by Felicity Collier

THE Tories’s con-trick personal independence payments (PIPs) are wrecking the health of disabled people across the board and are a disgraceful failure “from start to finish,” more than 80 charities blasted in a report published today.

A majority of people with long-term conditions — including Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy and mental health problems — said that being assessed for PIP has harmed their health and caused stress and anxiety, the Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC) said.

The consortium has been digging into PIP since the Tories brought it in to replace disability living allowance (DLA) in 2013.

To get the benefit — which goes towards care and mobility needs — people are forced to go through frequently cruel reviews where they are interrogated about their condition.

There have been numerous injustices, including people being stripped of payments or having them cut, and even losing their mobility scooters and vehicles.

Michael Gibson, 36, has had Parkinson’s since he was 18, and had his mobility car taken off him while his wife was on maternity leave with their second child.

His condition leaves him stiff, struggling to walk, or making involuntary movements.

He said: “It was a horrific time, I can’t use public transport so I didn’t know how I was going to get to work.

“I have never experienced my Parkinson’s symptoms as bad as when I was going through the PIP process. It was frightening, I felt like I had progressed 10 years with the condition.”

Mr Gibson appealed against the decision but it took so long that the car was taken away before he’d received a response. He had to borrow money from his dad to make sure he could still get around.

He said he worried about paying the bills and became “inward and depressed.”

The Motability charity said that 59,000 people have lost their eligibility for a vehicle since 2013 — nearly half of whom were being reassessed for PIP.

Only 4,000 had a successful reconsideration or appeal.

The number of cases where PIP decisions have been appealed against and overturned is increasing, which the DBC says suggests that first-time assessments are often wrong.

But appealing against a decision means roughly a 17-week wait — without the financial support that has been taken from them.

Anne McRae has two teenage daughters who are profoundly deaf and wear cochlear implants but, having qualified for DLA from birth, they have now been refused PIP.

She called the tests “crude” and “dehumanising,” and said incorrect assumptions about deafness were made, including that their eyesight would compensate for their hearing.

She said: “My daughters have always been profoundly deaf, that’s never going to change, so why are they suddenly being denied support?”

The report made no mention of evidence from a doctor, or a support officer from the National Deaf Children’s Society.

The charity’s chief executive Susan Daniels said: “All across Britain, deaf young people are being denied vital benefits — not because they don’t need them, but because the application process is not accessible for their disability.”

Further problems with PIP involve the application form itself, with nearly three quarters of respondents telling the DBC that it was “hard” or “very hard,” while 11 per cent could not complete it.

Two thirds said what was written on their form “badly reflected” answers they gave in their assessment, and over half said assessors did not understand their condition.

The DBC called for the government to urgently review PIP and make improvements including simpler forms, more knowledgeable assessors and indefinite support for people with progressive conditions.