THE BLOG

It's Time To Break Away From Cuts To Disability Benefits

02/06/2017 16:27 BST | Updated 02/06/2017 16:27 BST
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When I saw Kathy Mohan confront Theresa May over cuts to disability benefits last month, it made me think she could've easily been one of many people with multiple sclerosis (MS) I've met.

We recently asked people with MS what they think the MS Society should be campaigning on in the run up to the election on 8 June. From the hundreds of responses, one issue clearly stood out - disability benefits.

It's no surprise then that more than 16,500 people have signed an open letter to party leaders asking the next Government to protect disability benefits from further cuts.

Living with a disability is expensive. On average disabled people spend an extra £550 a month to cover costs like specialist equipment and accessible transport. People with MS tell us the money helps them to stay in work for longer, pay their bills, spend time with friends and family and fulfil life goals.

But currently, too many people aren't able to get the support they need.

Since Personal Independence Payment (PIP) started to replace Disability Living Allowance (DLA), its roll out has been hampered with countless problems. Eligibility criteria have been tightened and assessments don't adequately reflect the realities of living with MS. People are having support reduced or losing it completely.

Take for instance John, a grandfather who's lived with MS for almost 30 years. Shortly after his diagnosis John was given DLA, which enabled him to lease an adapted Motability car.

After a reassessment last October to move onto PIP John was told he no longer qualified for the highest rate of support and he was forced to hand back the car. He has appealed, but five months on he has still not heard when his tribunal will be. During this time he's essentially been left housebound.

It's absurd that those who were once deemed to be in need of this vital support now face having it reduced or taken away.

Now that the parties have unveiled their manifestos, we're encouraged that many have highlighted the need to protect disabled people in society and recognise the contribution they can make.

But no main political party has yet committed to no further cuts for disability benefits.

This election presents an opportunity to provide reassurance and security to people with MS and other disabled people - many of whom are really struggling.

Through our MS: Enough campaign, we're working to ensure people with MS are able to rely on support without the constant fear of having it taken away.

We're calling on all political parties to move towards a welfare system that makes more sense, and commit to no further cuts to benefits in the next Parliament.