Edinburgh East Labour MP and Work and Pensions Select Committee member Sheila Gilmore today slammed Government dithering on whether injured veterans will have to undergo tests for a new disability benefit. This follows media reports that suggested David Cameron had personally intervened to ensure disabled ex-soldiers would not have to be assessed.
Sheila Gilmore was speaking after receiving an answer to a written parliamentary question asking whether veterans injured on active service will be exempt from assessment for the Personal Independence Payment, the replacement for Disability Living Allowance. In her response the Disability Minister Maria Miller claimed that ‘all applicants would be required to undergo an assessment’ but then said ‘we are working with the Ministry of Defence to consider what arrangements would best take account of the unique situation of severely injured service personnel’.
Sheila Gilmore submitted this question after an article appeared in The Sun newspaper claiming David Cameron had ‘slapped down MoD bureaucrats and ruled that anyone left disabled by military service must be exempt from benefit cuts’. The article went to claim injured veterans will ‘be exempt from a new scheme to re-examine all claimants aged 16 to 64’.
Sheila Gilmore said:
This written answer shows this Tory-led Government are dithering on whether injured veterans should undergo assessments for the new Personal Independence Payment.
It also shows how desperate Downing Street are for good press coverage with spin doctors having told The Sun that veterans would be exempt, only for the Minister responsible to admit the issue was still under review.
The Government should stop dithering and exempt all people with serious injuries and disabilities from face to face assessments. Instead they should refer to evidence from medical professionals with detailed and longstanding knowledge of claimants’ conditions. This would save public money and reduce the stress and anxiety experienced by disabled people, whether they are veterans or not.