Plaid Cymru Leader Leanne Wood has welcomed confirmation from the First Minister that, following challenges in first minister’s questions, the Welsh Government is examining ways to remove patient charges for medical assessments required to access disabled grants and benefits.
On November 15th, Leanne Wood raised the issue of a constituent of hers who had been charged £95 by her GP for filling in forms required for disabled students allowance. Leanne Wood wants the charges stopped by the Welsh Government, branding it a tax on disability.
In reply to a letter from Leanne Wood, the First Minister confirmed that he has asked officials to “look at what we in Wales can do to remove this financial barrier.”
Plaid Cymru Leader Leanne Wood said:
“Following my action in First Minister’s Questions, I believe victory is on the way in this fees-for-forms issue.
“When my constituent came to me with this problem, I was shocked that an extra barrier was being put in the way of a disabled person who wanted to study and improve her skills.
“That’s not how we should be doing things in Wales. We should be helping disabled people into education and careers, not charging them for wanting to better themselves,
“The First Minister has agreed with us, and has stated he will put officials to work on getting rid of the financial barrier.
“The priority should be to make sure that the costs for filling in forms, whether these are for disabled student grants or for Employment and Support allowance, should never fall on the disabled person themselves. Yet citizens advice research suggests half of GP surgeries are charging disabled people directly for form filling, meaning there is an unfair postcode lottery as well.
This is not acceptable, if other government agencies require medical evidence, they should be prepared to pay for it and not let some of the poorest people face major financial costs just to prove they are disabled.”