Published on Friday 21 September 2012 12:08
A PARTIALLY-SIGHTED man says he is a “physical and emotional wreck” after discovering he is to lose his housing and council tax benefits.
Ian Hargreaves, 59, says he has been wrongly assessed by a new testing system for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) which has left scores of disabled people claiming they have been incorrectly declared fit for work.
Mr Hargreaves, of Blackpool Road North, St Annes, has been signed off since 2006 after he developed a condition which left him barely able to see through his right eye and he was previously able to claim £101 a week in allowances.
But now he has received a letter stating he is ineligible to claim benefits after an assessment by Atos Healthcare found him fit for work.
He said: “They promised me they wouldn’t make a decision until I’d had the results of a procedure at the hospital because they’ve got serious concerns with regards to my right eye.
“The eye examination ATOS did was a very basic examination, whereas the hospital examination looks at each eye separately.
“Courtesy of the DWP I’m a physical and emotional wreck.”
Mr Hargreaves had previously worked as a civil servant at National Savings and Investments prior to developing the condition, and completed a number of long haul bike rides for charity, once cycling from the set of Coronation Street to the set of EastEnders with Daley Thompson.
He said: “The ATOS thing is an embarrassment to the health service and my doctors can’t believe the assessment.”
Mr Hargreaves says he now intends to get in touch with the Royal National Institute for the Blind in order to consider his future options.
A spokesman from RNIB said: “Our helpline receives hundreds of calls from people concerned about their benefits and our welfare advisers are on hand to offer professional help and support. We would urge Mr Hargreaves to contact RNIB’s Helpline.”
A DWP spokesman added: “The Work Capability Assessment is an important part of the Government’s reforms to incapacity benefits.
“The old system simply wrote too many people off without looking at what they were able to do.
“Assessments determine what, if any, work a person could undertake, as medical conditions do change over time.”
Revoltingly, the comment thread on The Blackpool Gazette is swamped with vile comments made by Neo-Nazi scumbags