MP slams “cruel, intrusive and distressing” decision

John Nicolson MP.
John Nicolson MP.

An MP has stepped in to help a constituent with health problems who was told she was ‘fit to work’ by the Department of Work and Pensions.

Jackie Millan (53), from Milngavie, has dwarfism and is just over three feet tall.

Last September assessors told her that she could manage to climb stairs with the aid of a handrail but they failed to take into account that she could not reach a normal handrail.

Mrs Millan has a form of dwarfism called achondroplasia, which causes curvature and narrowing of the spine - giving her pain and pins and needles in her arms and legs.

She also suffers from tinnitus, vertigo and depression.

Due to her body size it’s difficult to prescribe medication to control her symptoms, so she lives with significant pain every day.

Despite this she was awarded no disability points and as a result did not qualify for employment and support allowance (ESA).

A ‘Mandatory Reconsideration’ of her case upheld this decision last November and in desperation Mrs Millan asked MP John Nicolson for advice and support.

He accompanied her to an appeal tribunal on Monday, February 8, and spoke on her behalf - at her request.

They partially upheld her complaint and granted her an ESA, and she has now been placed in the ‘Work Related Activity Group’.

Mr Nicolson has since raised the issue during a recent Prime Minister’s Questions in the Parliament.

He asked the Prime Minsiter David Cameron if he had ever attended a tribunal as a constituency MP and whether he thought the process was “fair, dignified and compassionate”.

Mr Cameron agreed to look into Mrs Millan’s case.

Mr Nicolson said: “I was astonished that despite living with dwarfism andchronic pain, as well as having very limited mobility, she had been allocated zero points for disability.

“The whole tribunal process was cruel, intrusive and distressing.

“Mrs Millan is a brave and inspiring woman who copes with the challenges life has thrown at her without complaint.

“That she could be found to be fit for work illustrates perfectly how the system is not working.

“I’m glad the Prime Minister has agreed to look into this - it’s important that he learns lessons from it.

“Mrs Millan’s experience is not an isolated one, and the UK Government must radically reform the system without delay as it is clearly failing those who rely on it most.”

Mrs Millan’s husband, who also has dwarfism, suffers from dementia and she cares for him. They also have a son who has dwarfism.