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Richard Lochhead

Moray SNP News

MSP DEMANDS ANSWERS FROM DWP OVER MORAY ASSESSMENT CENTRE

08/07/2019  

‘HEARTLESS’ DEPARTMENT FORCES MORAY’S CLAIMANTS TO UNDERGO 100 MILE ROUND TRIP 

Richard Lochhead MSP has written to the UK Government seeking urgent clarification over the future of Moray’s only assessment centre in Lossiemouth.

Mr Lochhead has demanded answers from the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Amber Rudd, over the Lossiemouth centre after he was advised it is no longer being used.  The Centre for Health and Disability Assessments – which carries out work capability assessments on behalf of the UK Government – confirmed to the MSP that claimants from Moray can no longer be seen locally and the nearest assessment centre is in Inverness.

Moray’s MSP has described this decision as “heartless” and has urged the Secretary of State to intervene to ensure that people in Moray can be assessed locally.

Commenting Mr Lochhead said:

“I was surprised to receive an email this week from the company contracted by the DWP to carry out disability assessments confirming that the assessment centre in Lossiemouth is no longer used. 

“This strikes me as a ridiculous decision that’s been taken hundreds of miles away in London with no idea of what it will mean for people in our local communities.  Some of the most vulnerable people in Moray will now face a round trip of 100 miles to be assessed and many of them will have no access to public transport.

“I know from the cases that come into my office that these assessments cause a great deal of stress and it is completely heartless for the UK Government to expect my constituents to make this long journey.

“Tory welfare reforms are causing real hardship in communities across Moray – to force people to go to Inverness for their assessments on top of that is a complete kick in the teeth.”

SNP Councillor Paula Coy added:

“Asking people who are very often at their most vulnerable to travel such a distance is a disgrace, add to that the rurality of Moray and it’s going to be an impossible task for some. The logistics of simply getting to Inverness and locating the assessment centre, which isn’t that central, could just be too much for people.

“The DWP must reconsider this step and reinstate Moray’s assessment centre, they must acknowledge that people with severe disabilities and illnesses, including terminal illnesses, should not be forced to undertake this journey to get the benefits they’re entitled to.”

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