• Parkinson’s disability allowance reassessments ‘wasting £3m’

    The UK government is wasting more than £3m on “pointless” disability reassessments for Parkinson’s Disease patients, a charity has claimed.

    Parkinson’s UK estimates about 1,500 people in Scotland are being reassessed as disability benefit is replaced with another payment system.

    The charity argued they were not needed as the health of those affected will never improve.

    The UK government said it did not “recognise” the figures.

    Parkinson’s UK said the reassessments caused “needless anguish” among people who suffered from a degenerative and incurable condition.

    Almost 700 of the 1,543 Scottish recipients of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) had previously been identified as having the highest level of need and many had been given a lifetime award of the benefit, according to the charity.

    The allowance is being replaced by the Personal Independence Payment (Pip).

    Phil Reynolds, senior policy and campaigns adviser at Parkinson’s UK, said the assessment process was “broken” and failed to understand that Parkinson’s sufferers’ health could not improve.

    “We’ve even heard of people with Parkinson’s being asked by assessors how long they expect to have Parkinson’s for,” he said.

    “Pip is designed to help people manage the significant extra costs of their condition and stay independent, but a quarter of people with Parkinson’s have lost some or all of their award.

    “As a result, people are having their cars taken away, losing their independence and seeing their health deteriorate. This is simply unacceptable.”

    Reassessment ‘ordeal’

    Alan, from central Scotland, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 1997 at the age of 49.

    He was previously given a lifetime award under the DLA but his benefit was cut after reassessment for more than six months before the decision was overturned at an appeal tribunal.

    The award will be reviewed after five years.

    He said: “It was an ordeal to go through the reassessment process and when I was told that I’d lost my award if felt like they were adding insult to injury.

    “I felt betrayed by the government who after promising to give me a benefit for the rest of my life broke that contract by changing the name of the benefit and using the change as an excuse to cut my entitlement.”

    Responsibility for Pip will be moved from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to the Scottish government in 2020.

    Scottish ministers have pledged to reduce the need for assessments after the benefit is devolved.

    A DWP spokesman said: “We do not recognise these figures. The fact is over half of claimants with Parkinson’s are now getting the highest level of support under Pip – much more than under DLA.

    “Pip is a better benefit which takes a much wider look at the way an individual’s health condition or disability impacts them on a daily basis, and is tailored to suit each individual’s needs.”

    “Regular reassessments mean we can ensure people with degenerative conditions like Parkinson’s get the help they need as their condition changes.”

    Read the full article online: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-41916149

    Roisin Norris

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