RNIB parliamentary event alerts MPs to need for urgent action on cost of living
RNIB held a parliamentary drop-in event on 24 April that attracted MPs from across the House. Just under 60 MPs attended, or were represented by staff, including: Tom Pursglove MP, Minister for Disabled People; Stephen Timms MP, Chair of the Work and Pensions Select Committee; and Justin Madders MP, Shadow Minister for Employment Rights and Protections.
We used a range of creative activities to highlight to MPs the additional costs associated with sight loss and how the rising cost of living is impacting blind and partially sighted people. MPs were invited to find out how compatible their websites were with screenreading software and to guess how much it costs.
MPs also tried out our cost-of-living board game which involved reading out quotes from blind and partially sighted people about their experience of rising costs and tested their sight loss knowledge in our quiz. Campaigners discussed with MPs how the rising cost of living is impacting them, and MPs got a chance to talk with our Employment and Sight Loss Advice Service teams about the support they can offer to their constituents.
MPs told us that the different activities made them realise that blind and partially sighted people face additional unavoidable costs, with one MP citing that a quote from the board game brought home to them the different barriers people with sight loss face.
RNIB Chief Executive Matt Stringer had a constructive discussion with Minister for Disabled People, Tom Pursglove MP, and it was agreed that a formal meeting would be arranged to discuss how to tackle Access to Work application delays.
RNIB urged all MPs to support our calls for benefits to be reviewed and rebased; for immediate action to be taken on delays affecting the Access to Work scheme; to widen the eligibility of the Blind Person’s Tax Allowance to those certified with sight impairment, so it can reach more people with sight loss; and to provide greater financial support for blind and partially sighted people to deal with the rising cost of living.
The Policy and Campaigns team will be continuing to follow up with MPs on these issues and build relationships with MPs from across the House to make society more equitable for blind and partially sighted people.