By Luke Traynor
In the last 12 months of his life, the 43-year-old’s weight plummeted and he grew so thin the bones on his shoulder were visible
A grieving son whose father looked like a ‘concentration camp prisoner’ after his benefits were slashed has blamed Coalition cuts for his death.
Ian Carress scored zero points in a controversial government welfare test which ordered him back to work despite the 43-year-old suffering a catalogue of health problems including failing eyesight and the nerves in his arms being removed.
In the last 12 months of his life, the former school caretaker’s weight plummeted and he grew so thin the bones on his shoulder were visible to his shocked family.
Ten months after his Work Capability Assessment (WCA), which cut his fortnightly state pay from around £130 to just £80, father-of-one Mr Carress, from Bebington, Merseyside, had died.
His devastated son Chris, 23, told the Mirror:
“My dad was not a benefit cheat.
“Out of that £80 a fortnight had to pay his council tax, utility bills and rent, pay for food for him and his dog, and try and find work. It was impossible.
“In less than a year he ended up looking like a concentration camp prisoner.
“He was proactive about getting a job and passed licensing exams in the hope of running his own pub, but couldn’t find any work.
“So, to add insult to injury, he was demonised by the Tories and I believe it killed him.”
Chris is furious at Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith for claiming last week those “who we think are cheating the system” will be rooted out.
At the Conservative Party conference in Manchester last week, a trial scheme was announced piling pressure on jobless Brits to find employment.
Suspected cheats or people failing to secure a job after work programmes have to spend at least 35 hours a week at their local centre or their welfare will be docked.
Mr Carress’s health problems began in 2011 when his beloved mother died and he sank into a deep depression which resulted in his decade-long job at a grammar school in Wirral being terminated.
He became incontinent due to stress, began to suffer from headaches – so severe he had to sit in darkened rooms – and was unable to lift objects due to having Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
He died in April, this year, following the government test the previous June.
“At his Work Capability Assessment, he told me he was asked stupid questions like, ‘can you lift your arm’, ‘can you bend over’, which he could do.
“It was like his whole medical history and illnesses, which he saw doctors for every week, was ignored and they told him he had to go back to work.
“My dad wanted to earn money but he just couldn’t. He had to take 20 tablets a day for all sorts of problems. He was a caring and responsible man.”
A spokesperson from the Department of Work and Pensions said:
“A decision on whether someone is well enough to work is taken following a thorough assessment and after consideration of all the supporting medical evidence from the claimant’s GP or medical specialist.
“Through a series of independent reviews and by working with medical experts and charities, we have considerably improved the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) process since 2010 to make it fairer and more accurate.”
Never forgotten: (April 2013) Benefit Cuts Caused Disabled Yorkshire Man Nicholas Barker To Take His Life, Rules Coroner