Published Saturday, April 21, 2012
HUNDREDS of benefit claimants have been told they are fit enough to work.
From 1,160 people assessed across the area by the Department for Work and Pensions since October 2010, 840, or 72 per cent, were classed as “fit to work”.
The work capability assessments were carried out on those claiming Incapacity Benefit, Severe Disablement Allowance, and Income Support.
A further 80 cases are still being examined.
The Government says the tests are rooting out cheats who should be working.
But opposition MPs have voiced concerns genuine claimants are having their benefits axed.
Stoke-on-Trent MP Rob Flello, pictured, said: “One of the people who came into my surgery was a bloke whose neck was busted up and had a prolapsed disc.
“He would love to go back to work. He was earning a lot of money at Wedgewood.
“But not only has he been told he now doesn’t qualify for benefits, but he will have to wait six months before his appeal will even begin.”
Mother-of-one Judith Streeton, was classed as fit for work despite being in recovery from breast cancer, and suffering from osteoarthritis.
The 49-year-old was told she would lose her £200-per-month incapacity benefit after an assessment by Stoke Medical Centre.
But after The Sentinel highlighted her case, the Department for Work and Pensions overruled the recommendation.
Mrs Streeton, of Balmoral Close, Hanford, said: “I worry lots of these people will be in a similar situation to me.
“The problem with these tests is they are full of ‘yes or no’ answers.
“People are human beings, it doesn’t work like that.”
Disabled mum Melanie Day also believes the system is flawed.
The 40-year-old has only 30 per cent feeling in her right leg, needs a stick to walk and has to take 12 painkillers every day after fracturing part of her spine in a car crash six years ago.
Melanie has been receiving £70 a week Disability Living Allowance (DLA), £50 of which goes on a Motability car.
But after a fresh assessment the mum-of-two has been told she does not fit the criteria for financial help.
Melanie, of Waterhouses, has appealed the decision and says she would have to move if she lost the car.
She said: “I think it’s deeply flawed. It’s not that I don’t want to work, I would love to go back to work, but I don’t think anybody would employ me in my condition.”
But Government ministers say the system is correctly identifying those who should be working.
Employment Minister Chris Grayling said: “Too many people have been left languishing on benefits for too long.
“We are providing support to those who need it, but it is right that those who are able to work should do so.”