Richard Lochhead

Moray SNP News



Moray’s SNP MSP has written to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, David Gauke MP, calling for a full time benefits assessment centre in Moray.

This comes after an increasing number constituents have contacted the MSP in huge distress at the prospect of having to travel to Inverness to have their assessment for Personal Independence Payment carried out.  Richard Lochhead has received a significant number of people get in touch with him with both physical and mental illness who have been distraught at having to travel to Inverness for assessment. 

Whilst assessments can be carried out in Lossiemouth, the numbers seen locally are very low and the majority of people living in Moray are forced to do a round trip of around 100 miles to be seen in Inverness.  Mr Lochhead has described the current arrangements as unacceptable and has challenged the UK Government to review their processes for people living in Moray, particularly given the increase in people suffering from bad mental health as a result of Government’s callous welfare reforms.

Mr Lochhead has highlighted the impact this journey can have on Moray’s most vulnerable people, causing them severe stress and anxiety, and has urged the Secretary of State to create a full time assessment centre in Moray to make the experience of being assessed as stress-free as possible. 

In his letter to the UK Government he has also pointed out that many people rely on public transport to get them to their appointment in Inverness, and with irregular bus services there have been instances where people have had no way of getting home from their assessment.

Commenting, Richard Lochhead said:

“In the last few months I’ve been contacted by many constituents who have been caused a great deal of distress at having to make a 100 mile round trip to undergo an assessment for Personal Independence Payments. 

“Having to go through these assessments is understandably very stressful for folk and the last thing my constituents need is the extra worry about how they’re actually going to get to Inverness.  Many of the folk going through these assessments are some of the most vulnerable in our communities and they are having unnecessary additional stress thrust upon them due to the lack of a full time assessment centre locally.

“Personal independence payment is meant to be there to help people with a long term health condition or disability and I’ve made it perfectly clear to the UK Government that it is totally unacceptable to expect people with these conditions to make a 100 mile round trip to be assessed.

“Aside from the stress caused by the current situation, it’s clear that this Tory Government is completely out of touch with the challenges people living in our rural communities face.  I’d certainly like to see the Secretary for State try to get to Inverness and back easily from Speyside using only public transport.

“People in Moray deserve better than this heartless approach and I certainly hope Mr Gauke will heed my request for a full time assessment centre for Moray.”