A Labour MP has criticised Government changes to disability benefits, arguing that the new system is treating people with epilepsy ‘cruelly and unfairly’.
Emma Hardy, who was elected Labour MP for Hull West and Hessle in the June general election, says decisions on eligibility for Personal Independence Payments (PIP) are being rushed and resulting in disabled people being refused the full amount of benefits they are rightly entitled to.
Ms Hardy, who is an ex teacher, told BBC Radio Humberside: “I think it’s cruel and unfair. There is not enough time being spent [on the assessments].
“One claimant told me they have 40 minutes to make a decision that could change their life, whereas adult social care assessments take a few days.
“With any decision we need to involve medical professional evidence”, she argued.
“I’m not a doctor and I would not want to be the person making the decision on who should and who shouldn’t, but surely any system we have should involve medical professionals who are really the experts on these different conditions.”
Ms Hardy has vowed to take the issue up with other members of parliament, adding that she was hoping to arrange a debate in Westminster Hall “on the level of epilepsy and PIPs being turned down”, the Hull Daily Mail reports.
Her comments come after a report from the MS Society warned the new system has robbed people with Multiple Sclerosis of £6 million in a year in disability benefit payments.
PIP was introduced in 2013 to replace DLA as the main benefit for sick and disabled people. Both benefits are designed to help claimants cover some of the additional costs associated with living with a long-term illness or disability.
However, figures obtained by the MS society through a freedom of information request show that almost one in three people with MS who had previously received the highest rate mobility component of DLA have seen their payments reduced under PIP.
The figures also show that nearly a quarter of claimants with MS who received the highest rate for the care component of DLA had their payments cut after reassessment for PIP.
Genevieve Edwards, Director of External Affairs at the MS Society, said: “These staggering figures show how PIP is failing some 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.”