Northamptonshire MS Group meet with Disabilities Minister

Fri 03 March 2023

Joe Brunwin

Last week, members of our Northamptonshire Group met with their local MP Tom Pursglove MP. As Minister for Disabled People, Tom is responsible for disability policy in the UK Government.

During the meeting, group members Stella, Jane and Jacqueline talked about how people with MS can be better supported in work and through improvements to the benefits system.

Better support in work

The employment rate for people with MS is 41%, while for non-disabled people it is 81%. Many people with MS want to remain in work for longer. But many don’t get the support to find suitable work or help to thrive in their roles.

The Department for Work and Pensions is currently looking at ways to improve workplace support for disabled people, including improving occupational health and schemes like Disability Confident.

Jane McGown, who lives with relapsing MS, spoke to the Minister about the challenges of working with MS and the importance of supportive employers. Jane said: “Working with MS can be difficult, and more can be done to help employers know how they can support their staff who have MS to allow them to stay in work for longer. There is a lot of misunderstanding about MS and how it affects people on a day to day.

We were pleased to hear the Minister talk about improving schemes like Disability Confident and Access to Work.”

Fixing the benefits system for people with MS

In his ministerial role, Tom is responsible for making changes to the welfare system.

Many people with MS have trouble applying for PIP, and often find the benefits they receive aren’t enough to manage the extra costs of living with MS.

Stella Luck, who is living with secondary progressive MS said:

 “I spoke to Tom about some of the awful experiences I’ve had applying for benefits in the past, and why the PIP assessment process needs to work better for people with MS

“After my PIP award was reduced on reassessment, I had to go through the stress of going to a tribunal, only for the DWP to put me back on the higher rate which I was on before my reassessment. This wouldn’t have happened if my assessor had a better understanding of MS and had taken on board evidence from my MS team.

“I urged the Minister to make improvements so others don’t face the same situation as me. People with MS shouldn’t have to keep justifying themselves for their benefits.”

How you can meet with your local MP

MPs are there to represent the interest of their constituents in Parliament.

Are you part of a local MS group like Stella, Jacqueline and Jane and want to meet with your local MP to discuss issues that matter to the group? Or maybe as an individual you have a great idea to make change for people living with MS. We have lots of resources on how you can be an effective local campaigner.

Explore our local campaign resources

If you’d like further information or help organising a meeting with your local MP you can email us at [email protected]