Parkinson's UK condemns disability benefits failures

On Wednesday we told an influential committee of MPs that the quality of disability benefit assessments for people with Parkinson's requires significant improvements.

We also spoke out over comments from the Prime Minister that this essential support is a 'lifestyle choice'.

Poor quality of assessments

Our Welfare Policy and Campaigns Advisor, Phil Reynolds, was invited to appear before the Public Accounts Committee to talk about the performance of disability benefit assessment providers, as we lead a coalition of over 60 patient groups called the Disability Benefits Consortium.

We told MPs about the poor quality of assessments for people with Parkinson's and other long-term conditions.

We warned that assessors often have a poor knowledge of Parkinson's, and that supporting evidence is often not being taken into consideration.

We recommended a number of improvements and solutions to help address these continued problems, including making sure assessors paid attention to supporting evidence.

We also suggested that assessment companies should be liable if benefit decisions turn out to be incorrect.

Watch Phil's appearance

Jeremy Corbyn mentions Parkinson's UK

Our campaign to get the Government to rethink its proposed cut to Employment and Support Allowance for people with Parkinson's who are too unwell to work was also highlighted by Leader of the Opposition Jeremy Corbyn during yesterday's Prime Minister's Questions.

Watch Jeremy Corbyn mention Parkinson's UK (from 10 minutes, 40 seconds in)

'Lifestyle choice' statement insensitive

However, we condemned Prime Minister David Cameron’s suggestion that many people treat benefits as a 'lifestyle choice'.

Parkinson's UK Chief Executive Steve Ford said:

"We hear time and again from people with Parkinson’s that the last thing they want is to give up work, and on average we know they continue to work 3-5 years after their diagnosis."

"A 'lifestyle choice' is an incredibly insensitive phrase to describe the heart-wrenching decision someone with Parkinson's has to make to give up work as their symptoms become more and more severe."

Join our campaign

Parkinson's UK is campaigning to make sure both Personal Independence Payments (PIP) and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) meet the needs of people with Parkinson's.

You can help, by sharing your experiences of applying for benefits or by joining our ditch disability benefits cuts campaign.

If you have any questions around applying for ESA or PIP, call our helpline on 0808 800 0303 or contact your Parkinson's local adviser.