St Albans woman with Parkinson’s fights for benefits changes

The PIP petition hand in at 10 Downing Street.

The PIP petition hand in at 10 Downing Street. - Credit: Jess Hurd

A St Albans woman with Parkinson’s Disease is calling on the Government to end unnecessary benefits assessments for people with the condition.

Janet Roberts at 10 Downing Street.

Janet Roberts at 10 Downing Street. - Credit: Jess Hurd

Janet Roberts, 57, joined staff from Parkinson’s UK at Downing Street to hand in a 33,000-strong petition against Personal Independence Payments (PIP).

PIP, which is replacing Disability Living Allowance, is designed to help people with the extra costs they face because of their condition. However Janet and the others feel the petition is failing those with Parkinson’s as a quarter of people with the condition have lost some or all of their previous support. More than 60 per cent of PIP appeals are also overturned in favour of the claimant.

Janet, who was diagnosed in 2005, was told she was losing her mobility allowance through PIP, which would mean having her car taken away. While Parkinson’s UK and MP Anne Main were able to help, Janet signed the petition to urge the Government to stop reassessing Parkinson’s sufferers for support.

She said: “When the letter came saying my mobility allowance was to be cut I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t move, I just cried. It was such an insult.

“My Parkinson’s really fluctuates, and means that some of the time I can hardly do anything. I’m unsteady, slow moving, and I’ve had several nasty falls. I often have to use a wheelchair to get around. So I don’t know how they can say I don’t need help with mobility.

“The whole assessment process for PIP was terribly distressing. I haven’t even let the thought that I’ll need to be reassessed again enter my head.

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“I’m an optimist so I hope that the PIP assessments will be scrapped soon and I won’t have to go through it again.

“The whole thing feels like you’re being kicked in the stomach. I feel abused by this uncaring system.”

Parkinson’s UK calculated that the Government is wasting £3 million on unnecessary PIP assessments.

Phil Reynolds, senior policy advisor for welfare at Parkinson’s UK, said: “It’s completely unacceptable that people are having cars taken away or even having their symptoms made worse by going through the PIP process. That’s why we need the Government to heed the warning of these 33,875 voices.”