Maddy Halliday: Stroke survivors pay price

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One in six of us will have a stroke at some point in our lives and stroke is the major cause of complex adult disability in Scotland.

Stroke can also cause financial hardship. If you are a stroke survivor aged over 65 you will usually have access to a pension, but if you are under 65 you will rely on welfare benefits if you are unable to work.

Some 25 per cent of all stroke survivors are under 65 and many struggle to return to work. Their family carer may also have to give up work or reduce their hours. Income can be significantly reduced yet people’s living costs remain the same or can even increase.

There are around 35,000 stroke survivors of working age in Scotland. With the right support, some stroke survivors can return to work, but others may never be able to. Both groups need and deserve adequate financial support through the welfare system.

The Stroke Association’s new report, Short Changed by Stroke, shows the UK Government’s welfare reforms are having a very negative impact on many survivors and their carers.

Stroke survivors tell us that the work capability assessment (WCA) shows little understanding of their condition and the assessment process is stressful and difficult.

Stroke survivors can be declared fit for work when they are not. Many feel demeaned, isolated and fearful of the future.

We call on the UK Government to make improvements to the WCA process so it is fair and supportive for people with complex disability and illness.

n Maddy Halliday is 
director, Scotland, of the Stroke Association