Norwich kidney transplant man told he’s fit to work by benefit assessors

Tuckswood man Carl Farrow with his wife Julie. Carl has been refused unemployment allowance as he has been deemed fit to work although he is waiting for a kidney transplant. Photo : Steve Adams

A father-of-four awaiting a kidney transplant and on benefits has been told that he is fit to work and could lose his benefits, despite being signed off work by his doctor until February.

Former builder Carl Farrow, 43, of Robin Hood Road, Tuckswood, receives £67 a week employment and support allowance, which replaced incapacity benefit.

He was diagnosed with adult polycystic kidney disease – an inherited disease which can lead to kidney failure – seven years ago and is awaiting a transplant at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge.

Thanks to his brother, who is donating a kidney, this will take place in January next year.

His deteriorating health forced him to give up his job as a self-employed builder in March, since when he has been receiving the £67 allowance.

“It makes me very tired and leaves me without the energy to do any kind of work, let alone building work, which is all I’ve ever done. “

Carl Farrow

But all claimants must now attend a work capability assessment, which determines whether someone is fit for work, and to his amazement he was told he was fit to work. He has appealed against the decision and it has now gone to a tribunal, but if he loses the appeal, he will lose the weekly allowance.

Mr Farrow, left, said: “It’s not fair. My kidney is only functioning at 14pc of its capacity, and their decision goes against all the doctors who have signed me off work until February.

“I had an assessment and they checked my movements and whether I could use my arms and legs, sit in a chair and then get up, and because I could, they said it proved I was fit to work.

“But it just took in what was visible and obviously there’s nothing you can see about my condition. But it makes me very tired and leaves me without the energy to do any kind of work, let alone building work, which is all I’ve ever done. I’m also in a lot of pain and I feel nauseous.”

Mr Farrow, who has four children aged between seven and 15 with wife Julie, 38, who works full-time as a nursery assistant, said his brother was donating a kidney and the transplant opertaion was booked for January.

He said that he had a fistula made to allow him to be connected to a dialysis machine, should the transplant not work.

He added: “They are still paying me the £67 at the moment, but if the appeal goes against me, then I think they’ll probably want me to sign up for job seekers’ allowance, which is also £67 a week, but I’m not fit to work.”

A spokesman for the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital said: “In general, patients who have kidney disease can find it very debilitating and need to take extra care with their health. There are different stages of renal failure and the medical treatments will become more extensive as a patient deteriorates.”

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: “It’s not right people were abandoned to a life on benefits. Those who cannot work will continue to receive unconditional support, those who can work with the right help will receive tailored support. We are continuously improving the medical test.”

The DWP said that, following the assessment, people who are found fit for work are supported through the new work programme, which rolled out across Britain last month.

However, the new, controversial assessment process has come in for major criticism and thousands of appeals have been lodged against decisions not to grant the benefit, with about 40pc successful.

The tribunals service has been forced to double the number of staff handling appeals, to accommodate the huge volume of complaints, and the cost of tribunals is estimated at more than £30m a year.

Norwich Evening News 24

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