He cannot talk, read or write, but Tories want severely disabled Stuart Chester to fill in 20-page form to keep benefits

A SEVERELY disabled young man who is unable to talk, read or write and needs round-the-clock care from his mother is the latest target in Iain Duncan Smith’s campaign against Scotland’s most vulnerable.

Stuart Chester, who has Down’s syndrome, epilepsy and autism and is unable to feed or wash himself, is being told by officers in the Tory minister’s Department for Work and Pensions to prove he is unfit for work.

The 25-year-old has been sent a controversial 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.

Last night Social Justice Secretary Alex Neil described Stuart’s case as “absolutely outrageous” and “shameful”.

Stuart has been given a deadline of September 18 to complete the complicated and detailed document and return it to the DWP.

His mother Deborah McKenzie, 51, said receiving the form had caused her “undue stress” and said Duncan Smith’s plan to deliberately target the sick and disabled was tantamount to “genocide”, after shocking DWP figures were released last week showing more than 80 people were dying each month following work capability assessments.

She said: “Stuart gets the high-rate DLA and he was supposed to get that for life because his condition will never change. He also received ESA benefits.

“I cannot understand why he was sent this capability for work questionnaire because he cannot talk, read or write or do anything for himself. There is no way he could work and this is just causing a lot of undue stress and anxiety.

“I was really upset when the form came through the door. I called up the DWP and asked them why they would send it out to someone like my son when he is supposed to to get DLA for life and they told me it was tough luck, that it’s just the way it is and I would just need to fill out the form for him just like everyone else.

“I know other disabled people in wheelchairs with conditions like cerebral palsy, also people like Stuart who cannot do anything for them, are being harassed by the DWP to fill in fit for work forms when there is absolutely no way they could work.

“I used to have to fill in a form for my son every three years but eventually we were told he had the DLA for life because his circumstances were not going to change and he I no longer had to fill in an application for benefits for him.

“I am his full-time carer and there is no way my son could work, no chance. He needs 24/7 care and cannot feed or wash himself and he has a lot of accidents toilet-wise. I have to do everything for him.”


read more here: http://www.thenational.scot/news/he-cannot-talk-read-or-write-but-tories-want-severely-disabled-stuart-chester-fill-in-20-page-form-to-keep-benefits.6995

Bedroom Tax victims fighting to prevent disabled grandson going into care – and costing Government much more

Paul and Susan Rutherford have defeated Iain Duncan-Smith’s bid to block their legal appeal against a ruling which could see them separated from grandson Warren

A disabled boy’s grandparents have beaten Iain Duncan Smith’s heartless bid to block a court appeal on the Bedroom Tax that will decide whether he carries on living with them or goes into care. Doting Paul and Susan Rutherford were targeted by the ­cruel levy, which will force them to quit their three-bed home, two years ago and fought it with a judical review.

Grandson Warren, 15, needs round-the-clock attention from two people and because of their own disabilities the couple rely on help from paid carers – who need to sleep over regularly. Without their third bedroom they will lose their support lifeline and Warren, who has Potocki-Shaffer syndrome, will go into care with the taxpayer footing the bill.

DWP chief Mr Duncan Smith urged judges to throw out the couple’s challenge. But last month Lord Justice Underhill and Lord Justice Stanley Burnton ruled their case must be heard by the end of 2015.

Michael Spencer, a solicitor for the Child Poverty Action Group, said: “Paul and Sue work round the clock to care for Warren. “Without carers who can stay they wouldn’t be able to cope and Warren would have to go into care – at substantial cost to the taxpayer.”

Paul and Susan live in a three-bed bungalow in Clunderwen, Pembrokeshire, specially adapted to meet Warren’s needs. They share a room while Warren sleeps in another. In addition to putting up carers, the third stores Warren’s equipment. Paul and Susan – who were in BBC documentary Saints and Scroungers – claim the hated levy ­unlawfully discriminates against ­seriously disabled children requiring overnight care.

The case will be heard at the same time as an appeal brought by a domestic violence victim known only as A, who suffered rape, assault, harassment and stalking at the hands of a former partner. She lives with her 11-year-old son in a three-bed property specially adapted by police to feature a panic room. But under the reviled Bedroom Tax, she and her boy are now only entitled to housing benefit for a two-bed property.

Rebekah Carrier, the solicitor ­acting for A, told the Sunday People: “Our client’s life is at risk and she is terrified. She lives in a property which has been specially adapted by the police, at great expense, to protect her and her child. It is ridiculous that she is now being told she must move to another property where she will not have any of these protections or else take in a lodger. She is a vulnerable single parent who has been a victim of rape and assault. The Secretary of State cannot seriously suggest it is appropriate to take a stranger into her home.”

The Lord Justices ruled that both of the cases raise points of significant public importance.


Clydebank mum: I go without food everyday to feed my three kids and mother

A single mum has revealed how she battles poverty to feed her three young children and mother every day.

The woman and her mother, who live together in Dalmuir, visit West Dunbartonshire Foodshare in Clydebank every week to get the week’s food, the Clydebank Post reports.

The young mum told how her bank runs dry every month as benefits are sucked away into the rising bills and cost of living.Her mother relies on her support after her benefit was docked to pay back a housing debt she says she paid, but could not prove. Now the family of five live in poverty, relying on the kindness of others to feed them.

 The young mum, who wished to remain anonymous, told the Clydebank Post: “Once you pay the TV license, bills and food you are left with about £3. I get nothing, I go without food every day, it’s either me or the kids a lot of the time, and food has to go to them over me.”

At first, she felt humiliated at having to use a food bank — but sheer necessity means she has overcome those feelings to ask for help.

“I’ve been going for two years now,” she said. “I have no choice, I can’t afford to live like this — I don’t remember the last time I bought anything. I have to save every penny I get for the kids.”

Counting pennies is something that is familiar to people who rely on the foodshare service.

The woman’s mother, leaning on a walking stick and with tears in her eyes, told the Post how life relying on handouts is difficult and undignified.

“I have gone without gas an electricity on Christmas Day twice now,” she said. “Last Christmas someone put money through my door for food but I had to spend it on bills. I get food from the food bank and I share it with my daughter. If there’s something we both like, we sometimes trade things and if there’s something we don’t eat we hand it back. Nothing goes to waste, we do it together so we can avoid going hungry where possible. I can’t live like this, I just can’t — there is no way of us getting enough food, we can’t manage on our own, we can’t live like normal people. It’s embarrassing at first but we have had to accept it.”

 Pushing a buggy uphill at Radnor Park another woman told the Post she and her children eat from microwaved tinned food every day.Crisis loans don’t work when you’re raising three,” she said. “My cooker has blown so now we have to eat just tinned food cooked in the microwave.I have to use the food share, I don’t have another choice, and even though my situation has got so bad there are a lot of people in Clydebank who use the food bank that are worse off than me.”

‘Vast social cleansing’ pushes tens of thousands of families out of London

Data shows that the numbers claiming free school meals has dropped by almost a third in some boroughs, suggesting areas are becoming preserves of the rich

Tens of thousands of poor families have left inner London in the past five years, creating “social cleansing on a vast scale” and leaving large parts of the capital as the preserve of the rich, figures suggest.

The extent of the problem is revealed in data that shows the number of children entitled to free school meals, a widely used indicator of deprivation, has dropped by almost a third in some London boroughs since 2010.

The figures portray a mass shift of poorer families from inner London just when the government has introduced a raft of changes to the welfare system.

Although there is no definite link between welfare reforms and the reduction in free school meal claimants, Sadiq Khan, the prospective London mayoral candidate who obtained the figures, said government policies were creating an increasingly segregated city.

“This data shows that the government’s policies on welfare and housing have caused social cleansing in London on a vast scale,” said Khan. “Families have been driven out of large parts of the city … this is not the kind of London I grew up in or want my daughters to live in.”

In 2010, the London mayor, Boris Johnson, said Tory welfare reforms would not lead to “Kosovo-style social cleansing”, pledging: “You are not going to see thousands of families evicted from the place where they have been living.”

But critics say the latest figures show that this is what has happened after the government cut housing benefit, introduced the benefit cap and unveiled plans to sell off social housing.

Read more here: http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/aug/28/vast-social-cleansing-pushes-tens-of-thousands-of-families-out-of-london

The story of how one man died soon after the DWP’s benefit tests found him ‘fit to work’

The Department for Work and Pensions has released statistics showing that thousands of people have died soon after being found fit to work by its disability benefit tests.

The DWP says the figures alone “provide limited scope” for understanding why people died. Here is one case study from 2014.

Trevor Drakard was found dead in his Sunderland home a few months after his incapacity benefit was stopped. He had killed himself.

Mr Drakard, 50, who had recently been assessed as “fit for work” and ordered to find a job, was in the process of appealing against the decision with assistance from Citizens Advice Bureau when he took his own life in July 2014.

An inquest in September of the same year in Sunderland heard how Mr Drakard, who had suffered with epilepsy from the age of six, was left feeling depressed “due to the stress of losing his benefits”.  Mr Drakard was described as a “lonely man” with few acquaintances who had recently lost two of his closest friends. He had suffered from meningitis at five months old which left him brain damaged, causing severe epilepsy when he was six.

The hearing was told how Mr Drakard would meet his parents for a meal three times a week. His parents explained that they were unable to contact their son to ask him to sign some documents relating to his benefit appeal. They visited Mr Drakard’s home and found their son’s body in his bedroom.

Tests found that he was still taking his epilepsy medication and the senior coroner ruled that Trevor Drakard had taken his own life.





Bedroom Tax: Disabled football coach who could lose his home says Britain is being taken back to 1960s

Wheelchair-bound John Smith, 40, said he would return an award from David Cameron for his community work rather than pay the tax

A furious disabled football coach who could lose his home because of the bedroom tax says Britain is being taken back to the 1960s.

Wheelchair-bound John Smith, 40, said he would return an award from David Cameron for his community work rather than pay the tax. The Liverpool FC fan was described as “inspirational” by the Prime Minister. But at the same time the Government is fighting to slash the cerebral palsy sufferer’s housing benefits.

Wheelchair-bound Mr Smith, from Croxteth, told the ECHO: “I would return my award rather than pay for the bedroom tax, the Liverpool Echo reports.

“It’s 2015 but it feels like 1960 with the way things are. There are people having to use food banks because of the bedroom tax. There are people like me in Liverpool who do lots of charity work but they are trying to take our benefits off us.”

Mr Smith was given one of the Government’s Point of Light awards for his work as a wheelchair football coach – and was handed the gong at Anfield last week by David Cameron’s speechwriter, Tim Kiddell. Meanwhile, the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) was preparing to appeal against an earlier decision to spare Mr Smith from having to pay the bedroom tax.

His specially adapted bungalow has two bedrooms – one where he sleeps and another where he stores disability equipment and keeps himself fit. The DWP says this second room is unnecessary and Mr Smith should suffer a housing benefit cut worth an estimated £48 a month.

Ruth Knox, from money advice charity Raise, who is helping Mr Smith with his battle, said yesterday: “People with disabilities are particularly harshly treated by the bedroom tax. For people in John’s position, being threatened with a cut to their housing benefit is very distressing and it damages their quality of life.”

The DWP said in a statement: “We’ve provided councils with £500m because we know there are situations like these where people may need extra support and local councils are in the best position to make that decision. This case is being appealed to ensure the consistency of the policy overall because, fundamentally, the taxpayer cannot afford to pay for unoccupied rooms.”

Iain Duncan Smith Is Still A Fucking Idiot – And Only We Can Stop Him

the void

Incapacity Benefit for new claimants will go, replaced by Employment and Support Allowance with the emphasis on what a person with a physical or mental health condition can do, rather than what they can’t.

Peter Hain, Labour Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, 2007

We need a system focussed on what a claimant can do and the support they’ll need – and not just on what they can’t do.

Iain Duncan Smith, Conservative Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, 2015

It’s just the same old shit, over and over again, whichever bunch of bastards is in charge.  The above two comments were made almost a decade apart and in that period the number of people claiming out of work sickness benefits has barely changed.  And why would it?  In any society there will be some people who cannot work due to illness or disability and as the pension…

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