Stuart McMillan MSP (SNP) on Monday 23rd June joined people with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) at a MS Society campaign event to listen to concerns about the impact of welfare reforms on those living with the condition.
Mr McMillan talked to people concerned about losing their independence as a result of the welfare changes and heard about the increasing stress and anxiety people with MS were experiencing because of changes to and problems with disability-related benefits.
There are more than 10,000 people in Scotland living with MS, an unpredictable neurological condition. More than three quarters of people with MS find that the condition impacts on their employment and career opportunities, and together with the costs of living with a disability many face significant financial hardship as a result.
To make matters worse, research has shown that recent welfare reforms are increasing both stress and financial insecurity for many people with the condition. A recent survey by the Disability Benefits Consortium found that over two-thirds of people with MS say that they are more anxious about how they will manage their condition in the future, because of continued changes to the benefits system and increasingly stressful applications for benefits.
The MS Society has been campaigning for a fairer benefits system with parliamentarians from both the Scottish Parliament and Westminster. As part of its Voices for Change campaigning programme, the MS Society gathered personal accounts from people with MS in Greenock about the impact of the welfare reforms and will be submitting these views to the Scottish Parliament this Summer.
Sarah Richard, Policy and Campaigns Manager at the MS Society commented:
“People with MS are really concerned about benefits and some of the stories we heard at the Voices for Change event back up the need for substantially different ways of doing things.
“People are waiting many months for decisions about vital disability benefits and the decisions that are made are often made with little understanding of how the condition affects the individual.
“We are very grateful for people in Greenock taking the time to share their views and to the MSPs for coming along to listen. The MS Society will use this evidence to continue to push for key changes”.