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.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/thousands-of-pensioners-to-benefit-from-pip-assessment-overhaul

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Tackling problem gambling

Today’s announcement of further funding by gambling companies is a welcome step in addressing gambling problems and support for individuals and families affected, but it does not go far enough.

The UK government also has an important role to play in the debate and it must step up and act by seriously looking at introducing a statutory levy as a means of tackling gambling related harm head-on. It can no longer afford to skirt around the issue.

Whilst the move today is a positive step, the gambling industry must also provide further support. This was also echoed by the Chair of the Gambling Commission recently as the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms was launched. We must look further into education, research and treatment to help individuals and families who have been affected and devastated by the scourge of problem gambling.

Over the past few months we have seen some positive steps but this issue requires further robust action, not a mere sticking plaster. I look forward to engaging with the gambling industry and the UK government in effectively tackling gambling related harm.

Gambling firms pledge £60m to help addicts after criticism: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-48834683

LEAP UK Podcast ahead of UN International Day Against Drugs and Illicit Trafficking

Anyone’s Child, Transform Drug Policy Foundation, and Law Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP UK) organised a roundtable podcast including both MPs and family members from Anyone’s Child to discuss the topic of drug policy reform.

The Journey of Drug Policy Reform: Anyone’s Child:

Acast https://aca.st/f3f4de

iTunes
https://apple.co/2FsQUqW

Spotify
https://spoti.fi/2WVH72R

 

More Accessible Rail Journeys in Inverclyde

In 2018, 8725 people used a Disabled Person’s Railcard in Inverclyde, compared to 4353 in 2015.

Everyone in Inverclyde should have the opportunity to travel by train and I welcome the increase in uptake of people using the Disabled Persons Railcard. 

I’m pleased to work with the rail companies to raise awareness of the discounts offered by the Disabled Persons Railcard and hope more people will benefit from big savings that can be made.

The Disabled Persons Railcard offers 1/3 off adult rail fares for travel on the National Rail network in Great Britain for people with a disability that makes travelling by train difficult. If travelling with another adult, they will also get 1/3 off their rail fare. There are no time restrictions on the Disabled Persons Railcard, so you can use it to get a discount on tickets at any time of the day. For more information on the Disabled Persons Railcard, please visit https://www.disabledpersons-railcard.co.uk/

 

Guide Dog lobby of UK Parliament

Today, more than a hundred guide dog owners from across the country converged on Westminster Hall in Parliament to share their experiences of being turned away by businesses because of their dog. At the event, the MP for Inverclyde spoke to guide dog owners about the lasting impact of these refusals.

It is against the law to refuse access to a disabled person accompanied by an assistance dog except in the most exceptional circumstances.[1] Despite this, a new Guide Dogs survey found that three out of four (76%) assistance dog owners had been turned away because of their dog.[2]

Taxis and minicabs were the worst offenders – experienced by 73% of those reporting refusals in the last twelve months. Refusals at restaurants (54%), newsagents (42%) and high street shops (36%) were also common.

[1] EHRC, Assistance Dogs: a guide for all businesses

[2] Guide Dogs survey of 421 assistance dog owners, April 2019

MS Society

I am delighted to have attended the MS Society’s parliamentary exhibit and see first-hand how close we are to stopping MS.  The MS Society were the first charity to come out publicly in their support for medical cannabis something I fully endorse and welcome.

MS is an unpredictable and challenging condition, which can be painful and exhausting. I want to see investment in this area of research continue to rise so everyone living with MS in Inverclyde and across the UK has access to effective treatments.

The MS Society is the UK’s leading not-for-profit funder of MS research and is currently supporting over 70 active projects worth more than £20 million. To find out more about the MS Society and the vital research it is funding visit www.mssociety.org.uk.

 

PoliticsHome article – UK drugs policy

Some say confession is good for the soul. Whether it is or is not it does seem to be the latest chic accessory to the Conservative and Unionist Party leadership pageant. Candidates have been rushing to admit that in the past (it’s always in the past) they have taken an illegal controlled drug. But this new-found honesty must be a quandary to them. How can they confess to breaking the law? More than that how can they confess to breaking a law they continue to support? How can a person admit to taking a class A drug for which the maximum sentence for possession is seven years in prison and not ask if it is time to review the law? I can only presume they sought some heavy legal advice before feeling confident about the need to come clean. And let us be absolutely honest, if the candidates were not going to tell us, there are plenty of supporters of other candidates that would have. This is not a case of remorse or guilt. No one is defending their action other than to say it was a mistake and I won’t do it again. And most shockingly no one is saying I did this, it is not a big deal, we should be debating the UKs drug policy. Because, in the current climate, that would be as good as admitting you were dropping out the race. These confessions are dripping in hypocrisy. These are politicians that have fought to maintain the pernicious and discriminatory drugs policy that the U.K. has maintained since 1971 and yet they don’t believe it applies to them or their friends. And that is the problem at the heart of the matter. The possession and use of illicit drugs is a UK Government policy used to persecute those living in areas of social deprivation. When we should be looking to help people with problematic use through harm reduction, treatment and wrap around support, we are instead focusing on opportunistic politicians scrambling up the greasy pole with their naked ambition on show for everyone to see. They will say that theirs was a victimless crime but that requires ignoring the brutality of the supply chain and the destruction of human lives at every stage of it. Not just the users but the growers, traffickers and dealers. The violence used to enforce control continues to escalate and human trafficking is supported and financed through it. A kid in a council estate caught with a few grams of cannabis for personal possession is faced with a criminal conviction that will harm his employment opportunities for the rest of his life but rich men in penthouses can snort cocaine until they pass out safe in the knowledge that their peers are doing the same and a that the law of the land is only for those that can least afford it. It is time to address the glaring anomalies and take a fresh look at the UKs drug policy. Ninety percent of people who use recreational drugs do not live chaotic lives. Of the ten percent that do, the majority have suffered physical, psychological or sexual abuse. We can’t continue to persecute people that are self-medicating to offset the pain they are experiencing and but we must start to change the mindset of many by demanding that those and such as those that deem themselves fit to be the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom acknowledge that the drug policy of the U.K. is deeply flawed and that they have demonstrated this already by their own action.

https://www.politicshome.com/news/uk/home-affairs/policing/opinion/house-commons/104489/ronnie-cowan-mp-its-time-address-glaring

Cycle to Work Scheme

Recently, I raised the issue of the cost of specialist or adapted bikes, which usually exceed the £1,000 cap, with the Minister for Transport.  I urged him to ensure the scheme was extended to make it easier for employees to take up cycling

Therefore, I hope the new guidance will makes it easier and simpler for employers to offer the scheme to their employees and, therefore, easier for employees to get on a bike.  It’s important we promote the many benefits of Active Travel and encourage people to take up cycling in Inverclyde.

My office has two bikes kindly donated by Community Tracks who also provided me with a bike, which I’m grateful for, and I continue to liaise with the Cycle to Work Alliance on this important subject.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-ushers-in-new-era-of-green-commutes-with-e-bike-cycle-to-work-scheme

EU elections

It was good to see that the turnout was up in every council area. Despite three years of constant Brexit chatter, the electorate have remained engaged.

From an Inverclyde perspective this is a crushing victory for the SNP. We have been a consistent voice for remaining in the E.U. while the Labour and Conservative parties have given out mixed messages.

The result being that the SNP vote rose by 13.2% while Labour dropped by 21.2%. Nationwide, while the SNP top the poll and Labour are fifth. But the biggest and most obvious message is that Scotland’s politics is vastly different from England’s.