Minister hears city’s concerns about benefit assessments
November 16, 2011
MP Julian Huppert has called on Pensions Minister, Steve Webb to investigate concerns raised by Cambridge residents about the government’s medical assessments for those claiming benefits, and specific issues with the benefit system.
A number of constituents contacted Julian about the ATOS assessments, carried out by a private firm, which have been heavily criticised after hundreds of thousands of their findings nationally were overturned on appeal.
Julian is particularly concerned for people suffering from Autistic Spectrum Disorders and mental health issues who are receiving Employment Support Allowance and have been summoned to attend assessments.
He is also worried about problems affecting people in care homes, who get Disability Living Allowance, and the local housing allowances under the Broad Rental Market Area for tenants of private landlords.
“People are extremely worried about the validity of these assessments given their poor level of reliability nationally,” said Julian.
“I fully appreciate the need to make sure that we are paying benefits to those who really deserve them and encourage those that can return to work to do so. But people with ASD and mental health issues can find these assessments frightening and deeply worrying and we must make sure that they are being carried out correctly.
"And there are a number of other problems that people come to me with. The Broad Rental Market Area under the last government works out rents in Cambridge by averaging them with Haverhill and Wisbech – so people cannot afford Cambridge rents; this needs to be changed.
“I am grateful to the Minister for giving up the time to listen to my detailed concerns. I was encouraged by his attitude and his commitment to look into the issues raised.”