On April 8th 2013, the government launched the PIP benefit, replacing the existing Disability Living Allowance (DLA) payment for people of working age. Understandably, this shakeup of the disability benefits system ruffled a few feathers, not least because of the announcement that eligibility assessments for PIP would be out-sourced to ATOS, a private sector IT firm.
Help My Mobility’s coverage of the changes were met with a great deal of interest from HMM’s users, sparking the team to launch a poll to further test the water of public opinion. Early indications suggest an overwhelming opposition to the changes, with 89% of respondents so far voting against the introduction of PIP.
Sue Wright, a HMM user who suffers from impaired mobility and who took part in the poll, warned against the possible implications of PIP for disabled people and those who work with them;
“Disabled people need a dignified income,” she said. “Not to mention the carers who never get recognition or paid, they get the worst deal of all in society.”
In response to this overwhelming level of public opinion, Help My Mobility has decided to put its weight behind a petition to prevent the abolition of DLA. The petition was started by Community Action Party member, Michael Moulding and has already gained over 44,000 signatures.
“We feel the government is doing this because it is clear that, by awarding the contract to assess Personal Independence Payments to ATOS, it can make savage cuts in welfare to the most vulnerable in society,” Mr Moulding said, regarding his petition.
“We believe people’s lives will be lost as a result of the scrapping of DLA.”
The Help My Mobility team believe that Mr Moulding’s cause is a just one, and feedback received from the site’s users – many of whom will be directly affected by the changes – seems to support this.
As a result, the team have decided to push the campaign in a bid to get politicians in Westminster to take notice, something that Help My Mobility’s head of communication Neil Williams, feels strongly about;
“We are inundated with news about austerity measures, and all of us understand that savings need to be made, but making those savings by taking money away from people who are already among the most disenfranchised in the country is something that does not sit well with me,” he said.
“This is something that people are just not going to stand for, and in a democratic society it is important for those in opposition to stand up and be counted.”
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