Parkinson’s campaigners took the fight for a fair benefits system direct to Downing Street this week.
Alongside staff from Parkinson’s UK, people affected by Parkinson’s handed in a 33,000-strong petition on Personal Independence Payments (PIP) to No. 10, calling on the Government to end stressful and unnecessary assessments for people with Parkinson’s.
PIP, which is replacing Disability Living Allowance, is designed to help people with the extra costs they face because of their condition. However, the new system is failing people with Parkinson’s as already a quarter of people with this lifelong condition have lost some, or all, of the support they previously had under DLA.
In addition, over 60 per cent of PIP appeals are now being overturned in favour of the claimant.
At the hand-in was Janet Roberts, one of an impressive 33,875 people who signed the petition to demand that the Government gets a grip on PIP and stops reassessing people for support when they are living with Parkinson’s – a condition that will only get worse.
For Janet, the battle is personal as she was told she was losing her mobility allowance through PIP which would have meant having her car taken away. Fortunately, Parkinson’s UK and her local MP were able to step in to help.
Janet, who was diagnosed in 2005 at the age of 44, explains: “When the letter came saying my mobility allowance was to be cut I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t move, I just cried. It was such an insult.
“My Parkinson’s really fluctuates, and means that some of the time I can hardly do anything. I’m unsteady, slow moving, and I’ve had several nasty falls. I often have to use a wheelchair to get around. So I don’t know how they can say I don’t need help with mobility.
“The whole assessment process for PIP was terribly distressing. I haven’t even let the thought that I’ll need to be reassessed again enter my head. I’m an optimist so I hope that the PIP assessments will be scrapped soon and I won’t have to go through it again.
“The whole thing feels like you’re being kicked in the stomach. I feel abused by this uncaring system.”
The charity previously calculated that the Government was wasting £3million on needless PIP assessments.
Phil Reynolds, Senior Policy Adviser for Welfare at Parkinson’s UK, said:
“It’s completely unacceptable that people are having support taken away or even having their symptoms made worse by going through the PIP process. That’s why we need the Government to heed the warning of these 33,500 voices.
“People with Parkinson’s that already have the highest rates of DLA should be automatically given PIP – and spared the trauma and indignity of a PIP assessment that could see them lose everything.”
To find out more about Parkinson’s UK’s campaigning work, see www.parkinsons.org.uk/get-involved/campaign