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Local MP Peter Grant has accused UK Government Ministers of “not living in the real world” after a meeting with the Minister responsible for disability benefits.

Mr Grant, the MP for Glenrothes and Central Fife, met Justin Tomlinson MP, the Minister of State for Disabled People, Health and Work, to discuss a number of constituency cases that had exposed serious failings in the benefits system.

Mr Grant said, “I had asked several times for this meeting because I wanted to tell the Minister at first-hand about some of the ludicrous and callous decisions being taken on behalf of his Government. Often these are constituents whose Personal Independence Payment, or PIP, has been reduced or even stopped altogether despite them having conditions that are recognised as incurable, and sometimes despite them being able to prove that their condition had got worse. We’ve had several notable successes recently, but these were when people fought all the way through the preliminary Reconsideration stage and were getting ready to give evidence to an independent Tribunal. This process can take months or even years.

“I regularly hear from constituents who have felt degraded and dehumanised by the benefit assessment process. Many don’t bother to appeal against bad decisions because they simply can’t bear the thought of putting themselves through the process. It’s a matter of serious worry for me that for every case that a constituent wins there could be many more where the DWP simply grinds people into submission and leaves them without the support they’re entitled to.

“I’m sorry to say that although Mr Tomlinson was polite and courteous throughout our meeting, he appears, like the rest of the UK Government, to be in denial about how much misery his department is causing. He even suggested that the huge increase in foodbank use in my constituency was because it’s easier for people to go to the foodbank than to go to the Job centre. I genuinely don’t think he and his colleagues are living in the real world.

“Pressure from opposition MPs has forced the DWP to make some small but welcomed improvements, but the system itself is simply not fit for purpose and needs to be radically changed.”

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