PIP assessments

Today, the Department for Work and Pensions announced reassessments for Personal Independence Payments (PIP) are being scrapped for around 290,000 disabled pensioners.

From today it will start being applied to existing PIP claimants over State Pension age.

The changes will benefit pensioners whose personal circumstances are unlikely to change.


Written question – Public health [08/07/2019]

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, with reference to the Finance Bill, what steps his Department is taking to require a review of the public health effects of fixed odds betting terminals. (272307)

Tabled on: 02 July 2019

Robert Jenrick:

Public Health England were asked to conduct an evidence review of the health aspects of gambling-related harm to inform action on prevention and treatment and are due to report back in Spring 2020.

The Government will shortly publish the report into the public health effects of the two gambling duty provisions as required by Finance Act 2019.

The answer was submitted on 08 Jul 2019 at 11:30.


Westminster diary w/b 1st July


I met with Liz Karter in Portcullis House to discuss gambling related harm therapy. Liz is an expert in this area and we had a long and informative conversation. The big five bookmakers have bowed to pressure and have offered to increase their contributions to offset gambling related harm. The offer is much more than they currently pay but it’s not mandatory and it’s still not enough. However now that there will be more money available the conversation is about how best to use that money. I was in the Chamber for questions to the Department for Work and Pensions and I hoped to get in in topical questions but it didn’t happen.


I sat in on the Scottish Affairs Select committee session as it was taking evidence from people I know in the drug policy reform movement. It was a fascinating session and received a lot of media coverage. The witnesses are experts that have travelled into Westminster to provide evidence at the request of the committee so it was extremely disappointing to watch some committee members spend the session on their mobile devices reading. Sitting on two select committees I often search for information during a session if its not in the briefing but that’s not what I was watching unfold during this session. It was disrespectful and totally unwarranted. In the afternoon I again took on the role of observer and watched the Health Select committee take evidence from a different set of witnesses on the same subject. It was not as good a session. In between these sessions I replied to a government statement on the big 5 bookmakers proposal to offer more money, but not mandatory, for gambling related harm. I described it as a bribe.


The Select Committee on Transport took evidence on pavement parking. It is set to be banned in Scotland but enforcing it in areas where the roads are too narrow for emergency services, when cars are not parked on the pavements is going to be problematic. Prime Ministers Questions was a dour uninspiring affair. I met with Henrietta Bowden-Jones to discuss her opinions on how gambling related harm should be funded and provided. She is an expert in this area and already runs a clinic in Fulham. We also discovered a mutual appreciation of art. I dropped in to an event hosted by Scottish Water to hear about their role in renewable energies. I was heartened to hear how much they knew about Inverclyde and our possibilities for hydro power. My flight was delayed but I made it back home for 10pm.


I met with constituents in the morning and spoke to Radio Clyde regarding William Hill and the proposed closure of several bookmakers. In the afternoon I delivered contacts details to local houses and held street surgeries.


I started by meeting BayWa, they are the new owners of Forsa Energy’s renewables business that was located at Pottery Street. The afternoon was consumed by surgeries in my constituency office.

Tele column 5th July 2019

Earlier this week, there were two Select Committee evidence sessions both taking evidence on drugs policy. The first, the Scottish Affairs focused on the law enforcement angle but importantly how we can divert people into health services rather than how do we persecute people. The second committee was the Health Committee and it took evidence from senior police officers and people in recovery. The overall feeling, I got was that health professionals and criminal justice professionals have come a long way in understanding the drivers and life styles that fuel addiction. Unfortunately, a lot of MPs still don’t get it. There is still a propensity to marginalise and stigmatise users. To see them first and foremost as criminals. The easy option is to hide them away within the prison system. As a result, prison is often the default outcome and the first opportunity many people have to engage in recovery. But prisons are full of drugs and the criminal fraternity that are controlling the production and supply. We should be addressing the problem behind the addiction. What are the emotional needs that are causing the harm? How big a driver is poverty? How do we help people live fulfilling lives? How do we identify and support those who are most vulnerable? These are the questions that need addressed. Hopefully that conversation is being ramped up in political circles and we can all come to the discussion with an open mind, ready to engage and learn from lived experience.