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Shocking treatment of disabled people exposed yet again

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A UK disability charity has revealed a catalogue of errors surrounding personal independence payments it says has caused "truly shocking" levels of stress and anxiety

The personal independence payment (PIP) process has been slammed yet again, with another disability charity labelling it not fit for purpose.

Muscular Dystrophy UK says changes from the Disability Living Allowance (DLA) to PIP have caused "truly shocking" levels of stress and anxiety to applicants due to unfair changes and bungling administrative errors.

It surveyed 300 people with muscle-wasting conditions and found that 40% had been told to visit an assessment centre that wasn’t accessible, the same number had experienced delays in the process as a result of application papers being lost by assessment companies and one in five had to wait over six months for an appointment to assess their eligibility to receive a benefit.

The charity revealed it also knows of between 400 and 500 people every week having their Motability cars taken off them due to changes in criteria between DLA and PIP which now tests to see if people can walk unaided for 20 metres rather than 50m.

PIP assessments are failing thousands, which is why we are calling on the DWP to urgently rethink the process now - Robert Meadowcroft

In early drafts of PIP regulations, 50m was considered the qualifying distance for an enhanced rate mobility award but this was changed at the last minute to the lesser distance.

It is calling for that decision to be reviewed immediately and for anyone who has enhanced rate mobility component of PIP withdrawn to be allowed to keep their vehicle until all appeal routes are exhausted.

Among others, Muscular Dystrophy UK is also demanding the DWP does more to make sure assessors Atos and Capita process all claims within the specified 13 weeks timeframe and that all premises are fully accessible for disabled people.

Robert Meadowcroft, chief executive of Muscular Dystrophy UK, said people with muscle-wasting conditions face physical challenges and endure financial hardship every day and need to have confidence that the welfare system is right for them, and will support them throughout their journey.

“Delays, cancellations and a lengthy period while applicants await the verdict are extremely distressing,” he said.

“The delays mean people are waiting months and in some cases even years for an outcome. To then be forced to start the rigmarole all over again within a few months is highly damaging to the individual’s mental well-being.

“That people with progressive conditions can even have their hard-won financial support package downgraded, losing entitlements and independence, is truly shocking.

“PIP assessments are failing thousands, which is why we are calling on the DWP to urgently rethink the process now.”

Previously it was claimed that changes from DLA to PIP in Scotland alone would result in 31,500 claimants using the Motability scheme have their claim for vehicles rejected.

John McArdle, co-founder of the Black Triangle disability rights campaign, described the move at the time as “despicable”, saying that disabled people were being targeted.

Reacting to Muscular Dystrophy UK’s findings Bill Scott, director of policy at Inclusion Scotland, said the report adds to the growing body of evidence that the current disability assessment system is not fit for purpose.

“The problems encountered by those with muscular dystrophy chime very much with the experiences of our own membership which has a much wider range of impairments and conditions,” he said.

“This suggests that these problems are general ones not confined to one impairment group. We would also echo Muscular Dystrophy’s calls for government action, particularly the restoration of the 50m walking “test”.

“We’d suggest that Scottish Government takes up the opportunity to re-introduce this once it has the new powers over disability benefits next year.”



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