New campaign for disabled benefits after travel woes

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A healthcare watchdog has launched a campaign to help disabled people in Kirklees who it says are being forced to travel as far as Manchester to claim government benefits.

Government changes to disability benefits, which were replaced in July by Personal Independance Payments (PIP), mean that those who were entitled must attend a new assessment.

But Healthwatch Kirklees says people living in the district who have been asked to attend an assessment are having to travel to Oldham, Keighley and Rochdale.

The organisation has now launched a campaign for a premises to be opened in Kirklees, one of the only areas which does not have an assessment centre.

It is working in partnership with ATOS, which runs assessment centres in Leeds, Bradford and Wakefield.

ATOS organises home assessments for those who cannot travel, but Healthwatch Kirklees says up to 60 people are thought to be on the waiting list.

“In the last fortnight we’ve heard that ATOS is looking to reduce its waiting times for assessments.

“Because there is no assessment centre in Kirklees, people in HD postcodes are being asked to travel to Oldham, Rochdale and Keighley.

“We’ve also heard how hard it is to get ATOS to deliver the home assessment visits that they are required to deliver under the contract.

“We understand that there are now 60 people in Kirklees waiting for a home visit.”

Dewsbury and Mirfield MP Paula Sherriff has backed the campaign.