We exist to improve the lives
of everyone affected by epilepsy

Our campaigns team reacts to the Liberal Democrat's manifesto

Political neutrality

Charity law prevents us from supporting any political party over another.

Our responses to the three main party manifestos are impartial.

Yesterday the Liberal Democrats published their manifesto for the 2017 general election. Here are our thoughts on some of their key announcements and how they could impact people with epilepsy.

Health

It’s no surprise that the Liberal Democrat manifesto focuses heavily on mental health. This is great news for the many people with epilepsy who are also living with a mental health condition. But for those who aren’t, what are the Liberal Democrats offering for them? Neurology is a neglected area within the NHS and we would like to see it being given the same priority as physical health and mental health. The Liberal Democrats have promised that the extra funding they receive from their 1p tax increase will be ring-fenced for a number of priority areas, including primary care. This is good news for people with epilepsy who rely on their GP and/or their community pharmacy for support with their condition.

We welcome the Liberal Democrat proposal to establish a cross-party health and social care convention. They would bring together stakeholders from all political parties, patient groups, professionals and members of the public. It is important for people with epilepsy to have a say on the services that affect their lives. Working together can only be a positive thing.

The Liberal Democrats say they want to move towards a system that empowers and encourages people to better manage their own health and conditions. Greater seizure control is achieved when people with epilepsy have a better understanding of their condition and how to manage it, as is shown in our Epilepsy and you programme. We would be interested in seeing how the Liberal Democrats aim to achieve this promise for people with long-term conditions, such as epilepsy

Employment

We strongly believe that to improve employment potential for people with epilepsy, which is a common concern, employers must do more. The Liberal Democrats have proposed a ‘wellbeing premium’ for employers that take clear action to measurably improve the health of their employees. This would benefit the whole workforce, which in turn would create a better environment and workplace for people with epilepsy. While there is the focus once again on mental health, we think this can be easily transferred to other long-term health conditions, like epilepsy.

They also intend to introduce a ‘good employer’ kitemark.This would cover areas such as paying a living wage and avoiding unpaid internships. However, there is no mention of disability or long-term health conditions, and even though the Disability Confident scheme could be improved, we would be interested to see where it would fit within this new kitemark.

We have been calling for the scrapping of employment tribunal fees, as well as improvements to the Access to Work scheme, so we are glad to see these within the Liberal Democrat manifesto. However, there is no mention within the manifesto of the previous government’s commitment to halve the disability employment gap, which is disappointing.

Welfare and benefits

We welcome the recognition that changes need to be made to the benefits system. We have been campaigning for a reversal in the cuts to the ESA work-related activity group, and are happy to see that the Liberal Democrats would do this.  There are a number of proposals including, separating employment support from benefits administration, and improving links between Jobcentres, Work Programme providers and the NHS. These seem positive on the surface, but more detail is needed before deciding if they would work for people with epilepsy.

The commitment to scrap the work capability assessment and replace it with a new system run by local authorities is interesting. Again, this would need more investigation on how this would work in practice. What we do know is that changes are desperately needed. To make sure these changes work for people with epilepsy, they must be involved in their development. Unfortunately, there is no mention of Personal Independence Payment in the manifesto, an area that also needs review and reform to make sure it’s working well for people with epilepsy.

Keep up-to-date on our work for General Election 2017

Event Date: 
Tuesday 16 May 2017 - 14:46

Comments: read the 2 comments or add yours

Comments

I have had epelipsy for over 20 years. I went for the pip because disability allowance is shutting down next year. But I wasn't ill enough to have it. So now I don't know what I can do x

Submitted by Gemma on

Hi, 

Thank you for contacting us. We completely understand your situation. Our advice and information line receives many calls about Personal Independence Payment and the assessment process from people who have had similar experiences to you. We know that it can cause a lot of stress and worry.

We have heard from many people who have been refused PIP but when they have asked for a reconsideration or appealed many have had the decision changed. Applying for benefits or asking for a reconsideration/appeal can be a challenge, as the rules can be quite complicated. If you haven’t already, it would be beneficial to get support with this from a specialist welfare benefits advisor, as their knowledge and experience can be invaluable. Organisations such as Citizens Advice or a local welfare rights unit can provide support with reconsiderations and appeals. 

We have information on PIP and epilepsy.. Please feel free to print this off and take to any meeting you have with a welfare benefits advisor. (I can send you a printed copy if you can’t print it yourself). 

If we can be of any more help, please feel free to contact us again. You can contact our helpline team direclty, either by email helpline@epilepsy.org.uk or the Epilepsy Action Helpline freephone 0808 800 5050. Our helpline is open Monday to Friday, 8.30am until 5.30pm. 

Regards 

Diane

Epilepsy Action Helpline Team

Submitted by rich on