Glasgow MP: Tories must reverse further cuts to disability benefits

Alison Thewliss, SNP MP for Glasgow Central, has called on the UK Government to re-examine the criteria for Personal Independence Payment (PIP), after it emerged that changes to the criteria for PIP have severely disadvantaged claimants with long term mental health problems.

At Prime Minister’s Questions today, Ms Thewliss raised the case of a constituent whose mental health condition is so severe that she has had over 50 separate admissions to psychiatric care. She needs regular assistance to manage her condition, which currently qualifies her for Disability Living Allowance but not for Personal Independence Payment. She stands to lose £110 a week as a result of the UK Government’s planned transition from DLA to PIP.

In March 2017, the UK Government brought in a change to the eligibility criteria to Personal Independence Payment, in light of a tribunal rulings which stated that people who required supervision to take medication for a long-term health condition should be awarded more points in the PIP assessment.

The change is estimated to deny at least 2,000 people with long-term mental health conditions access to Personal Independence Payment, according to figures provided by the DWP’s own Equality Impact Assessment – around 1.2% of the total number of people who claim PIP.

Ms Thewliss has written to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to ask for an urgent review of the PIP criteria, to ensure that people who require long-term monitoring of medical conditions can continue to receive the support they need.

Speaking after Prime Minister’s Questions, Alison Thewliss MP said:

“The denial of PIP to my constituent demonstrates the real human cost of the Tories’ callous austerity agenda. My constituent, and many like her, have been placed in a very difficult position because of the Tories’ obsession with cutting social security for some of the most vulnerable people in society.

“When changes to the PIP criteria were introduced in March 2017, the Government’s own assessments indicated that a small, specific group of people with long-term mental health conditions would lose out on crucial financial support. The Government ignored the warnings given and decided to press ahead with targeting some of the most vulnerable people in society.

“The Prime Minister’s promises of radical action on mental health are ringing hollow today. If Theresa May is serious about supporting people with serious mental health conditions, she must act to reverse the changes to PIP immediately.”

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