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Difficult times ahead for disabled people in rural areas, warns MP

Hywel Williams MP

Tomorrow (Wednesday), Plaid Cymru's Hywel Williams MP will use a debate in the House of Commons to highlight the difficulties disabled people who claim PIP (Personal Independence Payment) for their mobility needs will face as the new scheme comes into force.

He will also draw particular attention to the problems that those who use their PIP to access the Motability scheme will face.

Motability provides cars for severely disabled people. With the government intending to cut PIP to up to a third of those who currently receive it, many disabled people face losing their cars, which are vital to living a full life in rural communities.

Speaking ahead of the debate, Mr. Williams said:

"Disabled people in rural areas of Wales face particular mobility problems. They may live in remote areas; public transport may be sparse and intermittent and not always accessible to disabled people; or family and friends may not live locally.

“Disability Living Allowance has been a vital means of overcoming these problems. The introduction of the Personal Independence Payment with its oppressive and unreasonable new criteria means that up to a third of current recipients will lose the benefit.

“This will have a devastating narrowing effect on their lives and will defeat the aim of public policy over many decades of enabling disabled people to live ordinary lives in the community.

“Motability customers will be particularly badly hit. They depend on vehicles supplied through the scheme and currently financed by Disability Living Allowance. Up to 90,000 disabled people face losing their cars, vital to living a full life in rural communities.

He added:

“I am particularly concerned about the assessment arrangements for PIP, contracts for which have been awarded to Capita and ATOS.

“Capita has already started work but has had to concede that urgent assessments are already being delayed by many months, contrary to the standards set.

“Many sick and disabled will despair at ATOS being involved, given their dismal record in assessment of people’s capacity to work and the fact that they are pulling out early from that contract.

"Maria Miller, when she was Minister for Disabled People, did a u-turn on PIP mobility payments for people in residential care following successful pressure from disability groups supported by myself and others. I call on the current Minister to look again at the particular needs of disabled people in rural communities, before he also is forced into a humiliating climb-down.”

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