MP grilled over new dis­abil­ity pay­ments

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - News - By Molly Mile­ham-Chap­pell

Ashford MP Damian Green faced a grilling from res­i­dents at a meet­ing this week over health ser­vices and dis­abil­ity ben­e­fits.

The First Sec­re­tary of State vis­ited Park Mall shop­ping cen­tre for a meet­ing or­gan­ised by the Ashford Chronic Pain group.

More than 50 peo­ple – in­clud­ing car­ers and those with dis­abil­i­ties and long-term ill­nesses – at­tended the meet­ing at The Hub on Tues­day morn­ing.

The aim of the meet­ing was to al­low mem­bers of the pub­lic to raise their con­cerns with the Cab­i­net min­is­ter about the Per­sonal In­de­pen­dence Pay­ment (PIP) as­sess­ment and reg­u­la­tions cur­rently in place for those seek­ing fi­nan­cial help.

The meet­ing was hosted by Kent Labour Party cam­paigner Char­lotte Cor­nell, who re­peated a se­ries of ques­tions put for­ward by at­ten­dees ahead of the meet­ing.

Per­sonal In­de­pen­dence Pay­ment (PIP) is a new ben­e­fit paid to peo­ple who live with long-term dis­abil­i­ties or long-term health con­di­tions which af­fect daily life. It is re­plac­ing the Dis­abil­ity Liv­ing Al­lowance (DLA), for peo­ple aged be­tween 16 and 64.

Res­i­dents spoke up to give per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ences of is­sues they had en­coun­tered in the PIP As­sess­ment process, with some claim­ing they had been pe­nalised for be­ing able to plan a jour­ney – even if they could not take it in re­al­ity – and the abil­ity to cook healthy din­ners in­stead of eat­ing ready meals.

A hand­ful of peo­ple said they had been of­fered ap­point­ments more than 20 miles from Ashford, de­spite there be­ing a cen­tre in the town.

Speak­ing about the lo­ca­tion of meet­ings, Mr Green said: “If we were to do all the as­sess­ments at home there would be huge de­lays. We’ve got th­ese de­lays down a lot. Some peo­ple won’t like the as­sess­ment, that’s in­evitable.”

Many asked about the NHS strains and the pro­vi­sion of am­bu­lances at the William Har­vey Hos­pi­tal. Sev­eral com­plained of long wait times for se­ri­ous con­di­tions as a re­sult of ‘bed block­ing’.

Mr Green also said he would talk with KCC re­gard­ing dis­cus­sions to with­draw fund­ing for Dis­abil­ity In­for­ma­tion Ser­vices Kent (DISK).

Damian Green an­swers ques­tions on the PIP As­sess­ment

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