The austerity show must go on!
SOCIAL Justice Secretary Alex Neil has hit out at the “callous” response from the UK government after he called for the severely disabled to be exempt from distressing work capability assessments.
He wrote to Minister for Disabled People Justin Tomlinson citing the case highlighted in The National over the past few months of severely disabled Stuart Chester and urged him to stop these assessments for people like him whose health condition will never improve.
However, in a letter of reply Neil was told that people like Stuart “cannot be exempted from attending periodic work capability assessments” and it was stated there was support in place to “ease the whole process”.
Neil said: “I think it is wrong and cruel to put people with life-long conditions like Stuart’s and his family through the stress and anxiety of these assessments when it is quite clear his condition will never improve and he will never be fit for work.
“These Tory ministers haven’t a clue about how normal people live. I think it is outrageous that they are not even willing to consider exempting severely disabled people from these totally unnecessary assessments.”
Neil met with 25-year-old Stuart, who has Down’s syndrome and autism, cannot speak, read, wash or clothe himself, and his mum Deborah and sister Amanda in September for the first time to discuss ways of working together to save other vulnerable people suffering under the new welfare system.
Stuart, from Glasgow, is just one of hundreds of severely disabled people ordered to prove he is unfit for work even though he needs round-the-clock care from his mum.
He was sent a 20-page work capability assessment form to fill in that will investigate his fitness for work and whether he deserves his Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) benefits.
Deborah, 51, has filled in the form for him and heard word back from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) that his benefits won’t change but Stuart will still have to face regular assessments to see if he is fit for work, which she insists is “ludicrous”.