Loss of independence fears for MS sufferers

Stephen Lloyd with MS sufferers
Stephen Lloyd with MS sufferers

Stephen Lloyd MP was one of more than 4,000 people who added their signatures to an open letter that he and the MS Society delivered to the Minister for Disabled People, Esther McVey MP this week.

The MS Society is concerned that people with long term conditions, such as multiple sclerosis (MS), will be negatively affected by planned Government changes to Disability Living Allowance (DLA) when it is replaced in April.

Last month the government announced that the criteria for the enhanced mobility rate for the new benefit, Personal Independence Payment (PIP), had changed. Previously, people with physical walking difficulties would have qualified if they were unable to walk more than 50 metres in an assessment. That has been cut to 20 metres. The MS Society strongly opposes this change.

If approved, many people with MS and other mobility issues will not be entitled to the enhanced rate of the PIP mobility component. Many will be at risk of losing their motability vehicles and will face increasing barriers to living independently.

The Eastbourne MP joined a group of people with MS who “marched” 20 metres to the doors of the Department for Work and Pensions to deliver the letter to the Minister and highlight how restrictive the new mobility criteria are for PIP.

“Our real anxiety is that many people with MS will lose the higher rate of mobility and would then lose their mobility car,” said Mr Lloyd.

“However, if the government puts the safeguards into regulation, this won’t be an issue. I’m really pressing the Government to listen to the MS Society, myself and my Liberal Backbench Colleagues. Hopefully we’ll hear in the next few days that they have taken our concerns on board and fix the ‘timely and safely’ wording as a regulation in the new PIPs. This will mean that people with MS will keep their motability car.”