Disability Benefits and Social Care

Part of Opposition Day — [2nd Allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 3:39 pm on 20th June 2012.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Sheila Gilmore Sheila Gilmore Labour, Edinburgh East 3:39 pm, 20th June 2012

As my hon. Friend says, there are considerable problems with people being able to access legal advice on making appeals, but it is extremely difficult to access advice generally, given the cuts. We are certainly seeing that in my city, where the advice shop—one of the main advice centres—cannot see people for two weeks. Consequently, appointments are made two weeks in advance. Following an assessment result, people sometimes get a letter telling them that they have three weeks in which to appeal, yet it is difficult for them to get even basic advice in order to make an appeal. That is the reality that people are facing on the ground, so we need to look hard at the proposed tests.

Another important aspect of this debate—the Select Committee on Work and Pensions draw attention to this, and I hope that the Minister will consider it seriously—is that if we follow the pattern used with the employment and support allowance, people will be tested and re-tested, even though nothing in their circumstances has changed. One of the Select Committee’s recommendations was that limits should be placed on the number of re-tests under the new PIP. That is not to say that people should not be tested, but if they are re-tested constantly we may run into the problem of people having their next test virtually before they have finished their last test or their last appeal. That is not helpful, particularly for people with mental health problems, for example.