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Gainsborough MP turns down blind challenge after benefits changes proposal

By Lincolnshire Echo  |  Posted: June 09, 2012

Sympathy: West Lindsey MP Edward Leigh

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An MP has turned down a challenge from a visually impaired person to spend a week blindfolded.

Catherine Ball, 42, who runs an accountancy business and lives in Welton, wrote to Edward Leigh via Lincoln MP Karl McCartney about proposed changes to the disability living allowance.

From 2013, the Government wants to replace this with a new benefit called a personal independence payment (PIP) for eligible working age people aged 16 to 64.

But Mrs Ball fears blind people may get less than wheelchair users.

She challenged the Commons to live for a week blindfolded during the PIP consultation.

"If sight loss truly does not merit the same care and support as other disabilities then there should be no problem for MPs to continue to do their jobs whilst unable to see," she wrote.

Mr Leigh told the Echo: "I sympathise with Mrs Ball's situation but I don't think it would serve the needs of other constituents to spend a week blindfolded.

"Unfortunately, the disability living allowance was in dire need of reform, and replacing it with the personal independence payment will allow the Government to better concentrate its help towards those who need it most.

"If she does not receive an appropriate amount of money through the PIP, I will do my utmost to see that this problem will be ameliorated at the nearest instance."

Mr Leigh has also apologised for mistakenly suggesting Mrs Ball was deaf rather than blind in his written reply to her.

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  • Gnome_Chomsky  |  June 09 2012, 9:24PM

    If Mr Leigh does not "think it would serve the needs of other constituents to spend a week blindfolded", he is agreeing with Ms Ball's point, that he could not do his job adequately. Although I respect Mr Leigh as a politician, I find it sad that he considers Ms Ball's needs to be less important than those of other constituents

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