Head of Law Center said that this is the “topsy-turvy world” that disabled people have to live in and it doesn’t make sense.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) cut the pension of a double-amputee and told him that he was fit to work because he could “climb stairs with his arms.” The man won his appeal against the decision and will receive his missing benefits payments.
“Climb stairs with your arms”:
After receiving zero points during his Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) assessment in January, Julius Holgate, from Hackney, north London, fell into debt and had to selling his belongings to survive.
According to the DWP, Julius had mobility as he was able to climb stairs using his arms, therefore he could work.
Hackney Community Law Centre intervened on his behalf, leading to Julius winning an appeal against the Government’s decision.
The department claimed the decision was the due to a “clerical error” and has apologized
Chair of the Law Center, Councillor Ian Rathbone, said that third parties handling the assessment process has caused problems and it has allowed the government to wrongfully claim that it’s their fault.
Getting people off benefit:
Rathbone added that the ESA made bizarre judgments frequently due to its assessment criteria being so arbitrary. “They’ve not understood, or bothered to understand. He’s just another number, he’s just another person they want to get off benefits,” he added.
Rathbone also said that there are many other disability plaintiffs similar to Holgate but didn’t know how to access legal aid. “There’s an attitude that people shouldn’t be on benefits. That they are “skivers and shirkers’. It’s just disgusting. It’s not British, it’s something else.”
The high number of successful appeals highlight the inaccuracy of work capability assessments, according to Ken Butler, a welfare advice officer from Disability Rights UK. “Almost two-thirds of ESA appeals are revised in the disabled person’s favor.”
“The current testing regime is not fit for purpose in determining the level of financial or work support needed by disabled people. It is in urgent need of full scale reform,” he added.
According to a DWP spokesman said, when someone goes for an assessment they are asked to do a number of actions, and the way the scores were translated caused a clerical error.