Dis­abil­ity ben­e­fit cuts hit hun­dreds

Re­gion’s res­i­dents lose £1 mil­lion in pay­ments

The Galloway News - - INTIMATIONS - Stu­art Gille­spie

Ste­wartry res­i­dents are be­ing“robbed” of hun­dreds of thou­sands of pounds fol­low­ing cuts to dis­abil­ity ben­e­fits.

More than 400 peo­ple across the re­gion have been turned down for ben­e­fits fol­low­ing the switch from Dis­abil­ity Liv­ing Al­lowance to Per­sonal In­de­pen­dence Pay­ments.

The fig­ures were re­vealed fol­low­ing a Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion re­quest to the De­part­ment of Work and Pen­sions by in­ves­tiga­tive jour­nal­ism web­site the Fer­ret.

Dum­fries and Gal­loway Cit­i­zens Ad­vice Ser­vice, which has a branch in Cas­tle Douglas, say they have a very high suc­cess rate when it comes to dis­abil­ity ben­e­fits.

Op­er­a­tions man­ager Chris­tine Sin­clair said: “The ben­e­fits are back­dated if the ap­peal is suc­cess­ful. There are dif­fer­ent steps peo­ple have to go through and that can be quite stress­ful.

“Some peo­ple maybe don’t go through the ap­peal pro­cesses and don’t come to us to get help. The im­por­tant mes­sage to get out is that help is out there.

“The peo­ple we are see­ing are more vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple and peo­ple with medal health ill­nesses. It would ap­pear the med­i­cal as­sess­ment does not take into ac­count med­i­cal health prob­lems and it is more physical health prob­lems.”

The fig­ures es­ti­mate that the an­nual loss to dis­abled peo­ple across Scot­land is £56.4 mil­lion. Some 440 peo­ple have been turned down across Dum­fries and Gal­loway, cost­ing them more than £1 mil­lion.

SNP MSP Joan McAlpine said: “It is ab­so­lutely dev­as­tat­ing that Tory wel­fare cuts have taken al­most £1 mil­lion from those who need it most in Dum­fries and Gal­loway.

“This re­ally hits home at how dis­as­trous these cuts have been for peo­ple across Dum­fries and Gal­loway – rob­bing our so­ci­ety and vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple of the money they were en­ti­tled to un­til the Tories de­cided that they no longer were.”

Labour MSP Colin Smyth added: “This is a nasty and vi­cious at­tack by the Tory Govern­ment on dis­abled peo­ple in Dum­fries and Gal­loway and shows that it is the most vul­ner­a­ble who are pay­ing the price of aus­ter­ity. Those MPs vot­ing for this should be thor­oughly ashamed of them­selves.”

A spokesman for Con­ser­va­tive Dum­fries and Gal­loway MP Alis­ter Jack said that all ben­e­fit ap­pli­ca­tions were as­sessed based on in­di­vid­ual cir­cum­stances.

How­ever, he added: “Alis­ter and his team are al­ways ready to hear from peo­ple who feel their case has not been treated in a fair way.”

Con­ser­va­tive Gal­loway and West Dum­fries MSP Fin­lay Car­son said: “I have been con­tacted by many peo­ple seek­ing as­sis­tance on cases sur­round­ing the tran­si­tion from DLA to PIP.

“I have en­sured that each in­di­vid­ual case has been dealt with in the cor­rect and most ap­pro­pri­ate man­ner by the agen­cies, to en­able a smooth tran­si­tion.

“I be­lieve the UK Govern­ment has taken the nec­es­sary re­forms to make the wel­fare sys­tem fit for pur­pose, but we must con­tinue to en­sure those most in need are sup­ported every step of the way.”

A spokesman for the DWP said: “PIP is a fairer, more mod­ern ben­e­fit than its pre­de­ces­sor, fo­cus­ing sup­port on those who most need it.

“The UK Govern­ment spends more on dis­abil­ity ben­e­fits than ever be­fore, in­clud­ing £5.4bn more on PIP, DLA and At­ten­dance Al­lowance than in 2010.

“We are com­mit­ted to en­sur­ing that dis­abled peo­ple get the sup­port they’re en­ti­tled to.

“De­ci­sions for PIP are made fol­low­ing con­sid­er­a­tion of all the in­for­ma­tion pro­vided by the claimant and their GP, or med­i­cal spe­cial­ist, and any­one who is un­happy with their de­ci­sion can ap­peal.

“Scot­land has sig­nif­i­cant wel­fare pow­ers, in­clud­ing key dis­abil­ity ben­e­fits. The Scot­land Act 2016 gave the Scot­tish Govern­ment the pow­ers to top-up ex­ist­ing ben­e­fits, to pay dis­cre­tionary pay­ments and to create en­tirely new ben­e­fits al­to­gether.”

The fig­ures can be seen in full at https://the­fer­ret.scot/

Here to help Chris­tine Sin­clair of the Dum­fries and Gal­loway Cit­i­zens Ad­vice Ser­vice

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