Hope you are all enjoying this insanely hot weather! As a Yorkshireman born and bred I can’t help yearning for some good old reliable rain and cold… but that’s just me.
Things have been extremely busy for the Government Affairs Department at NRAS over the last couple of months. After visiting the Scottish Parliament in June to speak to a couple of MSPs and attend a Cross Party Group Meeting on chronic pain and musculoskeletal conditions, I threw myself into the work on our report ‘Breaking Down Barriers: Public Awareness of Rheumatoid Arthritis’.
After many 18-hour days, we managed to get the report published in time to launch NRAS’ RA Awareness Week. All the hard work definitely paid off as we got a response from the Government and the Shadow Health Team. We also successfully tabled an Early Day Motion (these are statements MPs can submit to Parliament in support of a campaign or event, which other MPs can sign to show their support) in the House of Commons which was supported by almost 50 MPs. We also secured equivalent motions in Scotland and Wales which were very well supported. It has to be mentioned that the support we achieved was in no small way down to your support. Through an e-action we asked you to write to your MP/MSP/AM to ask them to back our cause and once again you responded on mass!
This willingness for our members to get involved with our campaigns is something I have regularly seen in my time at NRAS. I can’t tell you how much we appreciate your support and it really does make the difference in gaining the backing of MPs. We are very lucky to have such an active and positive membership.
On that note, I have another request…
Although Parliament has now gone into summer recess, there is no let-up in the workload for our Government Affairs Team. The Government has launched a number of consultations on a range of subjects that run over the course of the summer and will require a response from NRAS.
Perhaps the most important of these consultations is the one relating to the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) mobility criteria. The Government has announced that it will look again at their tightening of the qualification criteria for the enhanced mobility rate of PIP, which state that if people can walk just 20m (less than the length of two buses) – even using aids such as sticks – they won’t qualify for the enhanced rate of the mobility component of the benefit. Nearly half a million disabled people will lose as much as £33.25 a week or, crucially, access to their Motability vehicle.
We are asking the Government to reinstate the 50 metre criteria it used under DLA and many other benefits as a way of assessing disabled people’s mobility needs. Therefore, as part of The Disability Benefits Consortium, NRAS are writing to David Cameron and Nick Clegg to raise our concerns at the changes. We need your help to show the PM and his Deputy how important this issue is to us by signing our letter today. Please go to our website to sign the open letter nras.org.uk/campaign/press_...
Let’s show the Government we mean business!
Government Affair Officer