Multiple sclerosis sufferers missing out since axing of DLA
CUTS to disability benefits have seen a third of people with multiple sclerosis having their payments axed or downgraded, new figures revealed yesterday.
Disability charity the MS Society found that people with the condition have lost at least £6 million since the government introduced personal independence payments (PIP) to replace disability living allowance (DLA) in 2013.
MS Society director Genevieve Edwards warned that PIP was failing the most vulnerable and said the government needed to “urgently fix this broken system.”
It found that 2,600 people receiving the highest mobility component rate of DLA had their payments slashed following reassessments between October 2013 and October 2016 — a loss of £4.8 million a year.
And the figures revealed that people who received the highest level of the care component of DLA lost £1.1m.
The MS Society said that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) had not provided sufficient evidence to show that those affected needed less support and PIP assessors are making “wrong decisions.”
The news comes a week after the government was warned that disabled people are being forced to use foodbanks as thousands have lost out on payments because they have been wrongly assessed under the new arrangements.
Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) spokeswoman Linda Burnip said assessors working for privateers including Atos and Capita appeared to be “totally ignoring medical evidence” and urged the government to get rid of the companies.
And even Tories voiced concerns over the impact of the move from DLA to PIP with South Cambridgeshire MP Heidi Allen backing Labour’s call for an urgent review into the assessment process.
Ms Edwards said: “These staggering figures show how PIP is failing some of the most vulnerable people with MS who need the highest level of support.
“It doesn’t make sense that people are losing money they once qualified for when they are living with a progressive condition that will never improve.”
She suggested that PIP assessors rarely have sufficient knowledge about MS which means wrong decisions are made and said the government “urgently needs to fix this broken system so that PIP assessments refl ect the realities of living with MS.”
A DWP spokeswoman said: “Under PIP, 36 per cent more multiple sclerosis claimants receive the highest rate of support than under DLA.
“We recognise symptoms of multiple sclerosis can fluctuate over time, and regular reassessments mean we can ensure people with degenerative conditions get the help they need as their condition changes.”