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Meg Munn MP - Sheffield Heeley's voice in Parliament | Welcome
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Disabled left destitute

Friday, August 15, 2014

The following was published in the Sheffield Star

Iain Duncan Smith, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, has said he will continue with welfare reforms and intensify the crackdown on benefits. He says his welfare reforms are ‘delivering’ after Labour left ‘whole sections of society on the side-lines’.

I disagree with him.  The reality of the impact of this Government’s reforms for some of the most vulnerable in society is that they are left destitute.

Delays in processing Personal Independence Payments (PIP) are an example. From October 2013 PIP began to replace Disability Living Allowance (DLA) affecting around 3.5 million people.

The Government says there is nothing to worry about with these reforms.

However recent Department for Work and Pensions statistics paint a different picture. 349,000 new PIP claims have been received but only 83,900 claims have had a decision made around 1 in 4.

New claimants have to wait months for a decision and wait even longer if they seek a reconsideration or appeal. These delays are unacceptable and cause suffering. People tell me that the system makes them want to give up.

Let’s be clear about the people affected.  These are vulnerable people with long-term health problems or disabilities.  In my constituency cases have included disabled children and those with terminal illnesses such as cancer not the kind of people we need to ‘crackdown’ on.

In one case DLA was stopped without warning, it then took ten months to process the PIP application resulting in severe financial hardship.

PIP, which pays from 21-134 a week, makes a real difference to people’s lives.  It helps people who have difficulties with basic daily tasks, ones most of us take for granted, such as preparing and eating food, or washing and using the toilet. It is also used to help people who struggle with mobility.

Those hit by the delays also face being denied access to other crucial benefits such as Carers Allowance and Severe Disability Premium.  For some the additional time waiting could mean losing a job, opportunities to train, or even a home.

This reform has been a disaster from start to finish, and according to the National Audit Office, if the current backlogs continue PIP will ‘not deliver value for money in the longer term’. Most importantly, as it currently stands, PIP does not deliver for disabled people and is not just side-lining many, but pushing them into poverty. 

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