In 2013, MND Scotland launched its Time to Benefit People with MND campaign calling for people with MND to be exempt from medical assessments for disability benefits.
What we did
Key messages for the UK government were:
- People with MND should be exempt from the Work Capability Assessment and allocated to the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) Support Group. 100% of people with MND, supported by our team, were allocated to this Group. Putting them through this highly stressful process was a waste of taxpayers’ money.
- People with MND unable to share a bedroom because they need an array of equipment to keep them safe at night; and/or their home had been significantly adapted for their needs should not be subjected to the ‘bedroom tax’ or forced to move home.
- People with MND currently on higher rates of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) mobility and care components should not be forced to go through reassessment for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) as it is medically impossible for their illness to improve.
We encouraged people with MND to send details of our campaign to their MPs and MSPs and we ensured that all politicians including key UK Ministers had a copy. We had lengthy correspondence with the then Minister for Welfare, Lord Freud. With the late MND patient and campaigner, Gordon Aikman, we met with the then UK Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt.
Although the UK Government did not come out and explicitly support our campaign, people with MND and our Welfare and Benefit Officers did report improvements. For example, people with MND gradually stopped being put through the Work Capability Assessment and put straight into the ESA Support Group. They also stopped being subjected to the ‘Bedroom Tax’.
The Scotland Bill transferred responsibility for PIP and other disability benefits to the Scottish Government and we have launched our Let's Get Benefits Right campaign to argue for changes to be made to these benefits when they come to Scotland.