Advertisement

  1. ITV Report

Epilepsy charity say people's safety put at risk by disability benefits system

Credit: ITV West Country

The safety of people with epilepsy is being put at risk by the current disability benefits system according to a British Epilepsy charity.

The Personal Independence Payment (PIP) system is a benefit for people with long-term illnesses or disabilities.

Epilepsy Action say the condition, which 12,500 people live with in Cornwall and Devon, has the highest refusal rate for people claiming this payment.

Daisy Harris says she has been denied disability benefits under the new scheme. Credit: ITV West Country

Daisy Harris is 22 and studies Marine Conservation in Newquay.

She has up to 150 epileptic seizures a night.

Daisy says she has been denied disability benefits under the new Personal Independence Payment Scheme which replaced the old Disability Living Allowance.

She thinks the assessment process is not right for people with epilepsy.

She was asking me about my mobility, being able to walk or go to the bathroom, I'm thinking this doesn't apply. I'm very mobile as you can see but it's the more nocturnal side - I don't get a full night's sleep; I probably get half the amount of sleep that people think I do.

– Daisy Harris

It's so sad that people just don't understand it or they stereotypically thing people who have this disability have to be in a wheel chair and that's just not right.

– Daisy Harris

Epilepsy Action say 15,000 people with epilepsy have been re-assessed from Disability Living Allowance to Personal Independence Payments.

EA say more than two thirds of those individuals have had their financial support refused or reduced.

The number of people refused who are claiming for epilepsy is 20 percent above the national average for other health conditions.

PIP payments can range from £22 to nearly £140 per week.

EA are now calling on the Government to change the PIP process for people like Daisy.

She relies on support with PIP to help her live an independent life and more importantly a safe life as well so this is why the assessment process needs to change. Assessors need better training so they can understand the complex needs of someone who has epilepsy.

– Chantal Spittles, Epilepsy Action

The Department for Work and Pensions says PIP is an improvement on the old system.

"PIP is a better benefit which takes a much wider look at the way an individual's disability or health condition, such as epilepsy, impacts them on a daily basis. Under PIP 29% of claimants receive the highest rate of support compared to 15% under DLA."

Credit: ITV West Country

You can find more information about Personal Independence Payments on the Govenment website or from the Money Advice Service.