New regulations in the UK mean that many disabled people are now worse off in terms of the help they receive from the State. For example, in the last month, a 61-year-old man with only one leg who is completely housebound has had his disability benefits stopped by the Department for Work and Pensions, because they say he is “able to work.”
William Ilott, a former farm labourer, whose left leg was amputated above the knee, has moved into his daughter’s house in Cheltenham, England, because he is not able to manage the stairs in his own home. He has to take morphine frequently to manage the pain and help him sleep, but despite this, and having a doctor’s certificate saying he is unfit for work, his benefit (Employment and Support Allowance) has been stopped. Instead, the DWP has told him he has to apply for Jobseekers’ Allowance and make efforts to find work. This decision followed a recent medical assessment which stated that he was able to travel 500 metres (the length of two football pitches) in his wheelchair.
The father of seven, says that he is not even able to leave his house without help, because he suffers from pain in his arm and groin, similar to those he had in his leg before the amputation. The leg was removed following three unsuccessful by-pass operation attempts to remove a blood clot in the lower part of the leg. This was only 6 months ago, and William feels it is very harsh that he should be expected to be looking for work again so soon, in view of his current ongoing health issues. He still has pains in other parts of his body, and he says a lot of the time all he can do is take morphine and pass out on the couch. He has a prosthetic leg, but wearing it is painful, and farm labouring is a physically demanding job in any case, let alone for someone with a serious disability. He says if at least he had a knee left it would make life easier, but he can no longer kneel down and his balance is gone. For some reason, rather than just going by the doctor’s note, the DWP keep asking for more proof of incapacity to work.
If Mr Ilott has to claim Jobseeker’s Allowance the money he is paid will drop from £300 per fortnight to £146 per fortnight, but he says it is not a question of the money, but of being told he is fit for work when he is clearly not.
A spokesman from the Department of Work and Pensions says that a decision about whether someone is able to work or not is taken after a thorough independent assessment, and any claimant who disagrees with the decision can appeal against it. The assessment process is designed (in theory) to give someone the support they need and help them get back to work, rather than having them on sickness benefits for years.
However, William Ilott’s family says that his case should be treated as more of an emergency owing to his condition, as he cannot guarantee being able to hold down a job at present.
Picture courtesy of www.express.co.uk