A DISABLED woman from Hanwell who had her leg amputated has had her benefits cut and told she must work.
Clare Sheehan, 23, had to lose her right leg below the knee following complications after falling down steps in Ealing last year. She has suffered serious weight problems, severe asthma and has extremely restricted mobility.
Despite all this, she is being told by JobCentre Plus that she is fit to work, despite letters from her doctor and an assessment from healthcare group Atos saying otherwise. She has not received job seekers allowance – about £90 a week – since the start of September, although she still receives a disability living allowance.
Her father Henry said: “It’s just tearing us up. We got a letter from JobCentre’s Glasgow office telling us that she can work, but no-one from there has even laid eyes on her.
“She’s been registered as disabled since July 2010. She can’t get into an office or up the stairs, it’s just ridiculous. Her GP has written to JobCentre and so has as the local MP but they won’t budge.”
Miss Sheehan said that having her benefits cut means she must spend even more time indoors. She said: “I need as much as support as I can get but this means I have even less independence. It’s very demoralising but we’re appealing JobCentre’s decision.”
Ealing North MP Steve Pound, who has known the family for some years said: “I’ve known Clare since she was at High School and she has always been desperate to work, but this case shows the cruel and arbitrary nature of the new benefits regime.
“This is a one-legged, severely disabled woman who cannot get around without a wheelchair. I understand the need for people not to take advantage of the benefits system but this is a person for whom that system was built.
“If ever there was a time for the state to put its arm around someone and give them a helping hand then this is it. I have already written to JobCentre Plus and I will be writing another letter to Iain Duncan-Smith, secretary of state for work and pensions.”
A spokesman for JobCentre Plus said: “We are reforming the welfare system to ensure no one is left trapped on benefits. People who are too sick or disabled will continue to receive our unconditional support, but those who are able to work will get specialist help through the Work Programme. Anyone who disagrees with their assessment can appeal and present further evidence.”