Following a long running campaign from Gordon and with the support of the local CAB, the Government and ATOS have finally agreed to have a dedicated centre in the town for PIP claims, as opposed to making disabled people travel almost 20 miles to Preston.
Earlier in the year Gordon raised the issue with the Leader of the House of Commons in Business questions, then put forward written questions to the DWP, before then meeting with ATOS officials at Labour Party Conference.
In the past couple of weeks, he also criticised the Government and ATOS in a recent Commons debate on disabled people, where he once again highlighted the Government’s unacceptable delays in providing an assessment centre for disabled people in Blackpool.
Gordon said while the decision from the Government and ATOS was “long overdue”, he explained that the announcement was good news for disabled people in Blackpool, who previously had to travel to Preston, often causing difficulty and problems for those in ill health and with mobility issues.
Gordon said: “This is good news that Blackpool will be finally having a centre at Warbreck House for their PIP Assessments and it will be welcomed by disabled people in the town. This is still long overdue but I am pleased that ATOS have finally listened to the strong concerns from myself, Blackpool CAB and other disability organisations in the town.
“The situation prior to this announcement was unacceptable and it wasn’t right that people being assessed were being put under the additional stress and pressures of having to go to Preston when they may have already been in ill health and have mobility issues. The cost of travelling to get there, longer journeys and in some cases people who were not familiar with where they are going, also caused lot of problems and anxiety.
“All be it temporary, I am pleased by this news and as it is an issue that is very important and affected many of my constituents.”
Gordon first pressed Government ministers about ATOS in an adjournment debate two years ago.
He added: “ATOS assessments have been a regular theme of my casework. Only back in June a housebound constituent contacted me after applying for employment and support allowance. Despite being unable to leave her home, ATOS said an assessment at her home wouldn’t be possible.
“The Tory-led Government’s welfare policies are unfair and have been cruel to many people in Blackpool, however I welcome the fact that disabled people can now be assessed much closer to home and this is a step forward in the right direction.”