Argyll and Bute’s MP and MSP have united to criticise the lengthy delays suffered by people in the area waiting for assessment for disability benefits.
Alan Reid and Michael Russell spoke after an exchange at Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons in which Mr Reid complained that medical assessments of applicants for disability benefits in Argyll and Bute were taking longer than elsewhere because ATOS, the firm which carries out the assessments, was reluctant to send assessors to the constituency.
In response to Mr Reid’s question, Mr Cameron said: “Obviously there are challenges in particularly far-flung rural constituencies such as that of the hon. Gentleman, which has many islands in it, but we have to make sure that people’s assessments are properly carried out.
“We want these tests and assessments to be properly carried out so that we can see whether people are eligible for benefits and what help they need to get work.”
Mr Reid said afterwards that one Bute resident had applied for benefits on August 2, 2013, but would only receive his assessment next week - and that after Mr Reid complained to Atos about the delay.
“The length of time some constituents have had to wait for ATOS to carry out a medical assessment is completely unacceptable,” Mr Reid said.
“Disability means more costs for people and it is completely unacceptable for someone to have to wait nearly a year to be assessed and receive benefits.”
Mr Russell said the delay was “an insult to disabled people across Argyll and Bute”.
“Argyll and Bute may be ‘far flung’ in the Prime Minister’s opinion,” Mr Russell said, “but communities across Argyll and Bute know his government at Westminster is completely out of touch.
“He should stop making excuses for ATOS and have disability benefit assessments brought up to speed in the constituency.”