Paralysed teenager on life support since birth told to attend DWP/AtoS Work Capability Assessment or lose his benefits

 

  • Liam Barker, 18, can only communicate by blinking
  • A letter Job Centre Plus said he might have to attend an interview to carry on getting benefits

PUBLISHED: 02:04, 22 September 2012 | UPDATED: 02:04, 22 September 2012

A father was disgusted after his severely disabled son might have to prove he couldn’t work in order to receive benefits.

Liam Barker, 18, was not expected to live beyond three months old after he was born paralysed and has remained on life support since birth.

But Liam defied his prognosis and celebrated his milestone birthday in December last year despite being born with an incredibly rare condition, called myotubular myopathy, a terminal muscle wasting disease.

A letter was sent to Liam Barker’s home saying he might be required to attend a ‘Work Capability Assessment’ in order to continue to receive Employment and Support Allowance

He requires a ventilator to breathe and needs constant care from his parents Phil Barker, 52, and Michelle, 44, at their home in Linthorpe, Middlesbrough.

The family were awaiting news on which benefits their son would be entitled to but were shocked when they received a letter which informed them Liam would be entitled to employment and support allowance but that he may need to attend a ‘Work Focus interview’ in order to receive them.

Two weeks ago, Mrs Barker, who also has a 12-year-old daughter, discovered that Liam’s child benefit payments had been stopped. 

Mr Barker said: ‘I discovered the letter last week. We’d been on a week’s respite and it was there when we got back. 

‘I rang Stockton Benefit Centre and a woman on the phone asked me: “Can he work?”

‘I tried to explain his medical condition and she just said: “It’s a yes or no answer, it’s a standard issue form.”

Mr Barker explained that his son couldn’t work but the lady on the phone said he may have to be interviewed and receive a medical assessment.

The letter insulted the family who claimed the Job Centre should have looked at Liam's National Insurance records beforehand

The letter insulted the family who claimed the Job Centre should have looked at Liam’s National Insurance records beforehand

The father explained there was no way his son could attend an interview as the only place he visits is the hospital.

The family are still waiting to be instructed on what they are supposed to do now.

The father believes that Job Centre Plus should know Liam’s situation as they have his National Insurance number, which can be used to reveal he claims disability benefits. 

‘I was quite annoyed really at that,’ he said. ‘After 18-years surely they must know now.

‘How is he going to go to a back to work interview? He cannot answer them. He can only communicate with a blink so I do not know what they are going to expect him to do.

‘If another disabled person had these issues and didn’t have a full time carer, they might lose their benefits or not know what to do. It’s caused a lot of upset.

‘I don’t think they really understand the situation and if they’d just looked into his National Insurance number or looked into his records properly they would realise he can’t work.’

The Department of Work and Pensions says candidates found to be incapable of work, receive long term support.

A spokesperson for the DWP said: ‘Often as a child gets older their needs change over time.

‘The Work Capability Assessment looks at what a person can do, not only on what they cannot.

‘If someone is not capable of any work, then they will of course get long term
incapacity support through the benefits system.’

The Daily Heil 

Comments
  • Deborah Kean September 23, 2012 at 6:39 am

    This is unbelievably horrible! I thought our system was bad, but this is worse!
    Deb

  • Sheila Amies-Byron September 23, 2012 at 11:46 am

    I knew that the UK gov. had gone insane, but having read about this lad, my ire has hit the roof. Words cannot express how Ifeel about ATOS and the DWP. I suggest that Cameron visits Liam just to see for himself how it is for disabled people. Wishful thinking? Of course.

    • tectmum1 May 11, 2014 at 8:24 pm

      in reply to your comment Mr Cameron had a severely disabled son he passed away a few yrs ago , so Mr Cameron sud know wat its like to have a child or family member disabled. . he doesn’t need to go see this young man or maybe he sud because he was once in the same position.. .

  • jeffery davies September 23, 2012 at 12:15 pm

    ah jesus works for these lot who daily claim we fit to work whot work who will employ us and there is no reply to whot work only that you can how lovely another case to the tribunels where money wasted could have gone to another perpose how lovely they get us fit to work while still no one will employ you whos bonkers and they still allow thius firm atos to prosper without fines and shown the door jeff3

  • Eleanor Robson September 23, 2012 at 2:46 pm

    The amount of pple who defraud the government out of Disability Allowance (of which in Greenock is nearly all who receive this benefit as well as E.S.A) should be ashamed of themselves. The pple who rightfully need help are losing out because of pple like the afore mentioned. I hope this poor guy gets the support he rightfully deserves. The Government need to wake up & smell the coffee,I aint to good at wording things but it sickens me to constantly see articles like this & know pple are deliberately defrauding the DSS,leaving the country with no money for the folk who desperately need & are entitled to extra help. All the very best Liam I’ll remember you in my prayers xxx

    • JJ September 23, 2012 at 3:08 pm

      Eleanor – according to the Government’s OWN figures, you are WRONG about the amount of benefit fraud!

      Please read:

      https://blacktrianglecampaign.org/2012/09/06/do-people-overestimate-the-levels-of-benefits/

      Successive UK Governments had deliberately mounted a campaign of propaganda and disinformation in the mass tabloid media to create the impression that disability benefit fraud is rife when according to their own figures it stands at less than 1%. Look at the figures if you don’t believe us.

      Why have they done this?

      Because they are privatising the welfare state.

      If they are allowed to get away with this, God help you or any of your loved ones who should fall sick or become disabled without private medical insurance. There will be no ‘safety net’.

      Please look around our site and familiarise yourself with the realities of life as a disabled person in today’s Britain.

      If you’re not as horrified at the ‘back story’ as we are we’d be very surprised. This campaign exists to challenge misconceptions and falsehoods surrounding disability benefits and telling the general public the truth and what is really going on – not what you read in The Sun or The Daily Mail.

      We would be hugely grateful if you would inform yourself and join with us in this important work by letting family, friends and colleagues know the facts.

      Very best wishes,

      John McArdle

      for

      Black Triangle
      Anti-Defamation Campaign
      In Defence of Disability Rights

      • tectmum1 May 11, 2014 at 8:31 pm

        after reading your comment you’ve got to remember it was the English pple that voted them in and needed the liberals to form a government..

    • Bernard Williams September 23, 2012 at 7:39 pm

      It is quite obvious you have been brainwashed by the propeganda this coalition is pumping out

  • kelpimare September 23, 2012 at 9:33 pm

    Private medical insurance? Would that be underwritten by UNUM? Ah well…..used toilet paper would be worth more.

  • erm...is it just me September 24, 2012 at 4:03 pm

    I have no love for this government or what they are doing to the benefits system, but I cannot see anything wrong with this letter. The poster claims the letter is asking the individual to attend an assessment, but this is not true. This seems to be a fairly standard format letter where the main body is a coverall. What is actually says is that the individual “may” have to attend an assessment and will be “notified of this separately” if this is the case. If they do get a separate letter asking them to attend an interview, then by all means be up in arms as this would be outrageous! But there is nothing wrong with this letter.

    • nope it's not just you September 25, 2012 at 2:49 pm

      my thoughts exactly. this is effectively a non-story. This letter says he’s getting the benefit and he MAY be called for interview. it’s a badly worked stock letter but it’s not what it is being trumped up to be. In that sense this is no better than the crap the government is trying to put out. Blowing this up only plays into their hands and does the wider argument more harm than good.

      having said that, getting the Daily Fail onside is i suppose oddly a good thing (though again their sensationalist headline states he MUST go for an interview)

      We must rise above the spin and deal in facts not blow things up that can be easily knocked down. I realise this is only part of a real problem but use real examples of people who have been called to interview or worse had benefits cut.

  • beverly page September 25, 2012 at 6:07 pm

    erm…is it just me
    I have no love for this government or what they are doing to the benefits system, but I cannot see anything wrong with this letter. The poster claims the letter is asking the individual to attend an assessment, but this is not true. This seems to be a fairly standard format letter where the main body is a coverall. What is actually says is that the individual “may” have to attend an assessment and will be “notified of this separately” if this is the case. If they do get a separate letter asking them to attend an interview, then by all means be up in arms as this would be outrageous! But there is nothing wrong with this letter.

    The letter also states….’You must provide Medical certificates until a Work Capability Assessment is carried out.’ Doesn’t state ‘might’ be carried out.

  • teresa December 17, 2013 at 3:22 pm

    its disgusting how they treat people my neighbor went through 3 years of appeals as she had a bungled op and was left unable to walk and is on morphine for pain but they said she was fit for work
    and refused her dla i got the local mp on the case and very soon after she won her 3rd appeal don’t give up keep appealing against it and ask for an out of house assessment its like assos was calling the specialists liars

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