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Glenrothes and Central Fife MP Peter Grant has again called for an end to private profit-making companies being used to assess claims for disability related benefits.

At Prime Minister’s Questions last week Mr Grant raised the case of a constituent, who had asked to remain anonymous, whose benefit was stopped because her condition had got worse. He asked David Lidington MP, Minister of State – who was standing in for the Prime Minister:

“Last year my constituent, who has cerebral palsy, was awarded £55 per week in Personal Independence Payments. She was subsequently diagnosed with fibromyalgia, an incurable and often severely debilitating condition, and was called in for a further assessment. The private, profit-driven company who did the assessment decided she was healthier with fibromyalgia than she was without, and stopped her benefit. She’s losing £2,900 per year because her condition has worsened, literally being punished for being ill. How can the government justify this?”

Afterwards the SNP MP said:

“For too long I have seen constituents being ill-treated by the DWP system and assessment process. This constituent contacted me just after I had heard that I had been successful in the ballot for Prime Minister’s Questions, and immediately I thought her story needed to be told because it’s just the latest example of what can go wrong if the people doing the assessments are motivated by profit rather than by a duty of care to the patient.

“This specific constituent’s condition got worse within a year of first being assessed. She should have been offered more support, but instead she lost even the benefit she had been awarded previously. She’s trying hard to maintain an independent life, but this recent decision will only make that more difficult.

“I’m pleased that the Scottish Government have confirmed that there will be no private sector involvement in assessing vulnerable people for those benefits that are the responsibility to Holyrood. The UK Government should follow this example and ensure that assessments can only be done by properly qualified health professionals who work in and are accountable to the public sector."

Mr Grant also confirmed that as a result of his question he has been invited to meet the Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work to discuss the case further on behalf of his constituent.

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