Many people have been in touch with me outraged with the Government’s changes to eligibility for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and dozens have shared their stories of how they are personally affected by the changes. Constituents who already find themselves in difficult positions, have had their situations worsened after seeing significant changes to their income.
Rather than listening to two individual tribunal rulings that would put mental health on par with physical health, the Government introduced emergency legislation that means people who suffer with psychological distress are awarded less money for mobility. They have also made it so people who need help monitoring a health condition or taking medication are granted less that those who undergo treatment therapies. I have been contacted about medical evidence being ignored, hostile assessments, people moving from DLA to PIP and seeing significant decreases in their allowance and numerous cases of vehicles being taken away.
The introduction of these emergency regulations is a clear demonstration of the Conservatives’ lack of desire for parity between mental health and physical health conditions, something myself and the Labour Party have argued for. It’s also worrying to see the Government disregard independent tribunal judgments in this way. These Government changes will reduce eligibility to PIP support for over 164,000 people with debilitating mental health conditions.
Last week in Parliament we saw an urgent debate on PIP secured by Debbie Abrahams, Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. Throughout the debate, the entire PIP system came under scrutiny. The system is fundamentally flawed, with high levels of disputed decisions. Over a quarter of all PIP assessments are challenged, with 65% of those succeeding.
The Shadow Front Bench have asked the Government to publish an impact assessment of all tax and social security changes showing the impacts that they have had, and will continue to have, on disabled people. We know the Government’s austerity programme has hit the disabled community hard. Last year the Joseph Rowntree Foundation found almost half of people in poverty in the UK are disabled or live in a household with a disabled person.
We need to be supporting people with disabilities, not penalising them with shameful cuts. The Government should halt to the £3.7 billion reduction to PIP by revoking the emergency regulations. I will continue to pressure them to do so, and push for a welfare system that is fair and effective for all.