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Amy Winehouse’s Mum Janis Has MS And Urges PIP Changes

January 24, 2020

Amy Winehouse’s mother is among a group of campaigners who have demanded that Boris Johnson make urgent changes to the benefits system.

Janis Winehouse delivered a letter signed by over 21,000 people asking the prime minister to amend the process for claiming Personal Independence Payments (PIP), which replaces the disability allowance.

Although PIP is designed to alleviate extra costs for those living with a long-term health condition or disability, campaigners have raised concerns about the assessment process and the complexity of claims forms.

Winehouse, who suffers from secondary progressive multiple sclerosis (MS) and is an MS Society ambassador, said she wants to support people living with MS “whose voices aren’t being heard”.

She said: “Some of my closest friends have been through the exhausting and demoralising process of claiming PIP, and it can’t go on any longer. MS is relentless, painful and disabling, and right now PIP is costing many people their independence rather than giving it to them.”

A spokesperson from the Department for Work and Pensions defended the payment system, saying that the government was paying £84m more annually than it was a decade ago. He said: “We will do more to help PIP claimants by introducing a minimum reassessment period and we’ve scrapped unnecessary reviews for pensioners and those with the highest needs.”

Ashley Arundale, 29, a veterinary nurse in Leeds who suffers from a relapsing form of MS, said the PIP process is “designed to trip us up at every turn”. “I’m not an angry person, but it makes me really angry – the total lack of knowledge was alarming. I thought about appealing, but was afraid of making a fuss and losing the award altogether, which I know has happened to others. Right now I don’t feel supported by the system at all.”

Jonathan Blades, head of campaigns and external relations at the MS Society, said he hoped the prime minister would “read this letter carefully”. “The UK’s welfare system is in crisis, leaving thousands of disabled people suffering as a result,” he said. “A process that was designed to protect society’s most vulnerable is now too often doing the opposite.

“More than 100,000 of us live with MS in the UK, and we need common-sense changes to PIP now so people can get the basic support they need.”

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