UK
11/07/2013 12:12 BST | Updated 12/07/2013 07:58 BST

Tory MP Graham Stuart Criticises Ipsa Decision On Wheelchair

Graham Stuart
Graham Stuart MP

A Tory MP who needed a wheelchair after a skiing accident has criticised the parliamentary expenses watchdog for refusing him one.

Graham Stuart also suggested the episode with Ipsa had caused him to consider the plight of people facing losing their benefits under controversial Atos tests.

Stuart sustained a collapsed lung, five broken ribs and a "smashed up" pelvis in a freak accident in Chamonix, he told the Press Association.

He had a doctor's note saying he "probably needs an electric wheelchair", which was passed to the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa).

But the MP for Beverley and Holderness said Ipsa denied his request for the wheelchair because the doctor only said he "probably" needed it.

Instead, he borrowed one from the aunt of fellow Tory MP Adam Holloway.

Stuart told the Press Association it was "interesting to note" how easy it was for Ipsa to deny him a wheelchair and said it would "cause concern" if the same mindset applied to disabled people seeking benefits.

"There are a lot of my constituents who are reliant on disability benefits and concerned about the way (disability assessment service) Atos approaches it (assessing people's claims).

"I haven't had to go through an assessment myself so I can't speak but it's interesting to note how easy it is for a bureaucratic institution to say that if you only 'probably' need an electric wheelchair then you can't have one.

"If the same mindset applies to people with far more serious and lasting conditions and mine then that is a cause of concern."

Linda Burnip, of the Disabled People Against Cuts campaign, said Stuart could probably have got a wheelchair from his doctor instead.

She said: "The problem is that a lot of disabled people are being hit by so many cuts at the same time, that to feel you know what they go through because of one temporary problem that you are having, doesn't really give you an overall picture of the sort of fear people are living in on a daily basis."

Correction notice: We inaccurately claimed in a previous version of this story that Graham Stuart MP had compared his skiing accident to people losing their disability benefits. The HuffPost UK apologises for any misunderstandings this may have caused.