Published date : 04 Nov 2019

Mid Fife and Glenrothes MSP, Jenny Gilruth, told the Scottish Parliament Chamber the story of a disabled Thornton man’s adverse interactions with the UK benefit system. 

Connor Beveridge, aged 24 from Thornton, suffers from Friedreich’s Ataxia - a recessive genetic disease that causes difficulty in walking, a loss of sensation in the arms and legs and impaired speech that worsens over time.

The MSP took part in the Scottish Government debate on improving disability assistance in Scotland.

The recent introduction of Social Security Scotland has a person-centred approach to disability assistance and is working to revolutionise and re-design the widely criticised new system. 

Speaking in the Chamber at The Scottish Parliament, the MSP said:

“The UK Government system enshrined discrimination against people with a disability; it enshrined unfairness for those in our society who are most in need.

“We have a duty to do things better in Scotland. Although the consultation is not the end product, it is the next step in a wider programme that will allow the Government to build a system that is informed by evidence, through listening to the views of the people with lived experience.

“We all have a responsibility to be part of that process and to contribute to creating a system that is based on dignity, fairness and respect and puts the needs of disabled people “at the heart of Scotland’s social security system”.

‘‘As Connor Beveridge put it, 

“A fairer benefits system goes hand in hand with a fairer society for all.” 

Mr Beveridge said:

“Why people with terminal and degenerative conditions like mine need to be put through this process will always beggar belief to me.

“My PIP assessment—although degrading—was relatively straightforward. However, my transfer from jobseekers allowance to the employment support allowance was a different story. Once I applied for ESA, I soon received a letter that I was being put on a waiting list for an assessment. Whilst on the waiting list I was put on a reduced rate of payment. I was on this waiting list for 15 months

“Friedreich’s Ataxia is a degenerative, muscle-wasting disease, so the impact that this period had on my health cannot be recovered. I was eventually assessed for ESA. It was backdated for nine of the 15 months I was on the waiting list—a total of £3,500.

“A fairer social security system will only ever be put in place when people realise that and they stop the finger pointing.”



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