A group of blind and partially sighted people came together in Kirkcaldy for a meeting with Gordon Brown MP.
Mr Brown, Honorary President of Fife Society for the Blind, visited Fife Sensory Impairment Centre to chat with some of his constituents, worried about the affect the proposed change from Disability Living Allowance to Personal Independence Payment will have on their lives.
The meeting was arranged after one of Mr Brown’s constituents contacted him to raise his concerns over what the changes will mean for him and other blind or partially sighted people in his situation. Stuart Beveridge, from Lochgelly, explained; “My main concern is the assessment which everyone has to go through before being awarded the new Personal Independence Payment (PIP). The assessment criteria is the part that is worrying me the most. Also, the people who are assessing us – health wise and mobility wise – don’t really know how hard it is for a visually impaired person on a daily basis and the possible obstacles and sometimes, dangers that could come up unexpectedly at any time.” Mr Beveridge was particularly interested “…to hear Gordon Brown’s views, the views of other people in my situation and what could be done to make the government more aware of our situation.”
Like Stuart, Caroline Penman, from Cowdenbeath, was concerned that the assessment process would not illustrate the issues facing a person living with sight loss; “A visual impairment is a completely different disability and I don’t think people really understand it and the difficulties we have…it is good to have Mr Brown here to listen to us and support us.”
Gordon said; “This matters because visually impaired citizens are finding the assessments are unrelated to their blindness. There has got to be a better appreciation of the needs of blind people”.
Notes for the Editor
Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is to replace Disability Living Allowance (DLA) from April 2013. It is thought the criteria to determine those who are eligible for PIP will be stricter than those currently in place. Testing will be carried out in two different categories: Daily Living and Mobility. The tests will be overseen by an independent health professional, who will then make recommendations to a ‘decision maker’ from the Department of Work and Pensions. People currently receiving DLA will not automatically receive PIP and will have to reapply and undergo the same testing as new applicants.