A TENANTS’ champion who has been told he must go back to work despite having four heart attacks says he has been left “financially destitute” and shivering cold with only a duvet to keep him warm.
The 61-year-old man – a longstanding District Management Committee activist who did not want to be named – has been fighting for his Employment Support Assessment (ESA) benefits to be reinstated after they were removed following a “work capability assessment” on September 9.
The man has been diagnosed with pancreatitis, heart disease and suffers from “anxiety and stress”, according to his appeal letter, which adds that his condition has “deteriorated considerably” since the test.
“I am financially destitute after this decision was made,” the man said in his letter, seen by the New Journal. “I am unable to heat my home and pay for my heating costs, and because of this my health has been affected. I have received no social security benefit since the decision was made and I am living in a home where my only form of warmth is a duvet cover.”
On Tuesday, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) dismissed his appeal saying they did not have to take this into consideration and are satisfied that his condition is not “uncontrollable or life-threatening”.
The Camden tenant has for several years received £315 a fortnight of ESA – benefits for people who are too ill or disabled to work – but it was immediately halted after his assessment.
The assessments used to be carried out by Atos, but the company and the government has cut ties and they are now run by an American company called Maximus.
The man said: “From when you sit down everyone there is being assessed. They had written down how long I was sitting down in the waiting room – it was 33 and a half minutes. They had written down whether I had signed my name and whether it was legible. I was treated like a second-class citizen.”
He has spent time being fed through a tube in hospital this year for his pancreatitis but has been told to fill out 50-page forms to retain his benefits.
Dorian Courtesi, spokesman of the Camden Assembly of Tenants, which has been supporting the man, said: “Apparently the tenant is fit to work even though they have had four heart attacks this year, two operations due to bowel cancer, suffers from diabetes, is diagnosed with heart disease and has fluid on his lungs due to their heart condition.” He added: “Iain Duncan Smith says he wants to put job advisers at the entrances of food banks. Why not just go one step further and place a funeral adviser on the doorstep instead? This government’s disregard of the disabled and sick is truly criminal.”
Read more here: http://www.camdennewjournal.com/dwphampstead