Blind from birth, epileptic and unable to leave home alone – but Government says she’s fit to work

Hazel Macrae has been told by the Department of Work and Pensions that she must go back to work despite being blind from birth

Blind since birth and stricken by a string of disabilities but told she is fit to work – this is the reality of Government benefit cuts.

Hazel Macrae, who also suffers from epilepsy, Type 2 Diabetes and osteoarthritis, was claiming Employment Support Allowance (ESA) and was told she’d have to undertake a back to work assessment.

The 62-year-old filled in a questionnaire explaining she’s unable to leave her home without the help of her partner or son because she is afraid of falling, can’t use a pen or pencil, telephone, and would be unable to “move safely” in a workplace.

She was also required to meet with a health professional in Gosforth to undergo a face-to-face assessment where she was asked a series of questions about her daily activities.

Echoing the award-winning Ken Loach film I, Daniel Blake – which was shot in Newcastle – Miss Macrae has been told she has “limited capability for work” and her ESA has been moved from the Support Group to Work Related Activity Group, and reduced by £15 per fortnight.

Miss Macrae, who has artificial eyes, will now have to regularly meet with a work coach to discuss how she can get back into work.

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‘I can’t breathe and can barely walk’ Shock as gran who is in pain 24 hours a day ruled fit for work only weeks after suffering a stroke

Pauline Pike has battled cancer, uses a nebuliser to help her breathe and has just suffered her second stroke – but hardhearted benefits bosses have ordered her to find a job.

A shocked gran who battled cancer and suffers chronic breathing problems has been told she’s fit for work – just weeks after having a stroke.

Pauline Pike has a history of health problems stretching back more than 30 years including cancer, diverticulitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder and asthma.

She has also had a kidney removed and suffered her second stroke six weeks ago.

Yet hardhearted benefits bosses have just told her they’re taking away her benefit payments and ordered her to find a job.

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Man declared fit for work despite needing double hip replacement slams benefit system

William McCallum had been signed off by his doctor but the DWP declared him fit for work

A man who has spent months in chronic pain has slammed the benefits system that declared him fit for work despite needing a double hip replacement.

William McCallum, who lives in the Crewkerne area, was diagnosed with osteoarthritis in both hips and was signed off by his doctor as he was unable to work because of the pain. Mr McCallum was receiving Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) after he was signed off and had been receiving money from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

As time went on he was called in for a back to work assessment. He was subsequently declared fit for work because he was able to lift his hands above his head despite awaiting a double hip replacement.

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Mother of ‘fit for work’ victim calls for ministers to face criminal charges

The mother of a disabled man who starved to death after he was found “fit for work” and lost his out-of-work disability benefits has called for ministers to face criminal charges.

Jill Gant says work and pensions ministers should be tried for misconduct in public office for failing to take action that could have saved the life of her son, Mark Wood.

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Man spends last day alive at a Jobcentre being told he’s ‘fit to work’. He dies on the way home

A man collapsed and died in the street on the way home from the Jobcentre on 12 December. He had been declared ‘fit for work’.

Lawrence Bond suffered a fatal heart attack shortly after leaving the Kentish town Jobcentre, reports The Camden New Journal. The 56-year-old had longstanding health problems such as difficulty with mobility and breathing.

Last year, the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) cut Bond’s Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). This happened after US private firm Maximus carried out his Work Capability Assessment (WCA) in July. The DWP turned down a subsequent appeal. His sister, Iris Green, said that Bond was waiting for the outcome of a second appeal when he died.

Bond’s situation

Bond had suffered prolonged health problems, associated with being heavily overweight. But in turn, his obesity may have been linked to his mental health problems.

Green said she thought he “suffered from anxiety all his life”. She said things got worse after he lost his last long-term job two years ago, and “his weight and unfitness made him unemployable”.

She continued:

[he] held down regular jobs and was never out of work from the age of 16 when he trained as a car mechanic, then did computer studies and went to companies fixing computers, photocopiers, cash tills – so he had his van which he felt safe in – but, of course, his diet was shocking so he put on weight.

Bond was distressed about a lack of treatment for his mental health issues, his sister said:

His anxiety was getting worse as he could not pay bills and was afraid to leave home to go to the shops. Two referrals his GP had made for mental health services had been lost and he said he felt annoyed about that.

He functioned very well when he had a job, and money, and a van and functioned as a productive tax-paying member of society, but he was frustrated that, although he was an intelligent person, he could not seem to get his needs met.

She expressed concern about the controversial Work Capability Assessment, and called for change:

I realise that the reception staff have no clinical knowledge or responsibility for doing it, but the rules need to be changed so that they have the right and discretion when they see a human being turning up in physical distress to flag the situation up and ask for urgent re-assessment.

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‘How could you be so heartless?’ – Government stop benefits of severely disabled man

The Durham man, who is registered blind among other conditions, has had his benefits stopped after failing to respond to a letter

A severely disabled man and his family have been thrown into despair after Whitehall beancounters decided to stop paying vital disability benefits.

County Durham man Alan Moody, 60, was declared unfit to work by his GP some 10 years ago after being diagnosed with cerebellar ataxia – a rare genetic brain condition.

Despite this Mr Moody of Leith Gardens, Stanley was summoned to a Department for Work and Pensions ‘work capability assessment’ so that he could continue to qualify to receive employment and support allowance – which equates to £450 a month.

One of the effects of Mr Moody’s condition is blindness and because of this he did not read the letter sent to him by the DWP.

As a result of his non reply the DWP took the decision on November 2 to stop paying the vital £225 a fortnight to Mr Moody.

Elder brother Terry Moody, 65, who is also Alan’s carer, told how he pleaded and appealed to the DWP to review their decision – something they did and stood by.

He said: “I cannot believe they’ve done this, how could they be so heartless. He has been disabled for 10 years, he cannot work, he needs this money.

“I have tried appealing to them but they say they are standing by it, I am trying to appeal again”

Read more and see the video here:

I, Daniel Blake ‘an accurate representation of austerity Britain’

By Dr Margaret Craig, GP in Possilpark and Springburn, Glasgow – consulted by scriptwriter, Paul Laverty, during the development of ‘I, Daniel Blake’

Critics of ‘I, Daniel Blake’, the latest film of Ken Loach and Paul Laverty, have attempted to dismiss it as unrealistic.  If only it were.

Let me tell you about one of my patients here in Glasgow.   A heart attack at age 58 came as a complete shock to a man who had always worked.  His employer gave no sick pay forcing him to claim benefits.  Eight weeks into cardiac rehabilitation he was assessed by the benefits agency as “fit for work” and his sickness benefit was stopped.  His work could not take him back as he had not yet been deemed fit by the cardiac rehab team.

He was distraught.  His family were furious, as were his physios and consultant.  As his GP, I could not believe it.  He appealed but by the time the decision was overturned he had been completely demoralised, was in debt and his recovery was significantly compromised.

Don’t tell me that this film is not an accurate representation of austerity Britain.

In my consulting room, I see a quick succession of feelings in many patients struggling with this system – first outrage, soon followed by cynicism, then finally resignation and defeat.  Ken Loach and Paul Laverty stick with the outrage, explore it and show all of us our responsibility.  We are left disturbed, with the need to work out what we can do to fight this iniquitous system.

‘I, Daniel Blake’ demonstrates clearly the impact of removing the minimum benefits that should be provided in a just society.  That safety net was the founding vision of the welfare state, echoing Mahatma Gandhi’s assertion that “the true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable”.

The film should be a wake-up call to all our politicians and policy makers.  If you haven’t seen it yet, you should; if you have, tell your friends and colleagues about it and keep the conversation (and the political pressure) going.  Perhaps ‘I, Daniel Blake’ can do for benefits what Loach’s 1966 film ‘Cathy Come Home’ did for homelessness – shifting attitudes, and ultimately policy, in a more compassionate and civilised direction.


Cruel DWP bosses tell disabled dad that if he can walk to the GP’s surgery then he is fit to work

William Miller has had his disability benefits stopped despite a crippling condition that could see him having his foot amputated.

HEARTLESS DWP bosses told a crippled dad if he could walk to his doctor’s surgery, he was fit to work.

William Miller, 61, has had his disability benefit stopped – despite facing an op to have his foot amputated if his illness deteriorates.

William, from Johnstone, Renfrewshire, worked as an electrician before being struck down by a painful condition which causes his bones to break. He says he can’t walk to the end of his road, never mind the mile and a half to see his GP.

DWP chiefs said that work assessments are designed to ensure people are no longer “written off” on sickness benefit.

His daughter Lyndsey, 32, has written to Work and Pensions Secretary Damian Green and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, demanding help for her dad.

And campaigners yesterday called for Work Capability Assessments to be scrapped in light of the case.

William said: “They’re telling me if I can walk to my GP, I can work. But I can’t walk to my GP. I can barely walk 20 yards to the end of my street without being in pain.

“I have to take taxis everywhere and need to get to my GP and the hospital twice a week. I don’t know how I’m supposed to find a job.

Read more here:

Dying after being judged fit to work.

Jack Monroe writes:

I would like to publicly apologise to the Department of Work And Pensions for an inaccurate statistic in my Observer article yesterday on the grim reality of the welfare system in what was once ‘Great’ Britain.

In my article I stated that 2,400 people had died shortly after their Employment Support Allowance had been severed, having been (clearly wrongly) judged as Fit To Work.

The DWP informs me that the correct figure is in fact 2,380.

As they are so keen on accuracy, and transparency, I thought I should provide the rest of the stats.

Between December 2011 and February 2014, 50,850 people who were claiming ESA, died.

Of these, 7,200 had been judged as ‘able to return to work in the future’ and placed in the ‘work group’ category of ESA to undergo regular gruelling testing in order to continue to claim the pithy pittances they needed in order to stay alive. (For avoidance of doubt, humans do generally need food and shelter to survive.) Spoiler alert- THEY DIED.

On top of these, 2,380 people who had been stripped of financial support and judged fit to work, subsequently DIED.

Seeing the DWP are so very keen on accuracy that they send bollocking letters to my editor, I expect they will be now opening the case files of the 9,580 people in a 2 year period who DIED having been judged as ‘fit to work’ or ‘fit to work in the future’. God forbid I make 20 mistakes in the face of your 9,580.

Your move, DWP. Your fucking move.

Meet the real Daniel Blakes – video

Ken Loach’s Palme d’Or-winning film I, Daniel Blake, depicts the cruelty of the benefit system through the eyes of an older man who’s been found fit for work. In Ashton, Greater Manchester, we look into the lives of the real Daniel Blakes and those who, as in Loach’s film, have began to fight back

See the video here: