How many more, Osborne? Ruth Anim and Liam Barker – different disabilities, very similar situations

 
 
SARAH ISMAIL Tuesday 9 October 2012 

Ruth Anim was fortunate to have a high-profile parent fighting her cause as Atos removed her benefits, but what about others whose voices won’t be heard?

Just over two weeks ago, I heard and wrote about the case of Liam Barker. Eighteen years old, paralysed since birth, he breathes through a ventilator.

His parents had just received a letter informing them that in order to receive Employment Support Allowance, he might have to prove he is unable to work by attending a Work Capability Assessment.

Just over two weeks ago, I first started wondering how many more Liam Barkers there would be.

I am sad to say that on Thursday, I heard of a case very similar to that of Liam Barker.

Ruth Anim, 27, has epilepsy, heart problems, curvature of the spine, severe autism and a mental age of 10. She has no sense of danger.

Ruth recently attended a WCA. She was found fit for work and told to prepare to find a job within a year.

Like Liam Barker, Ruth Anim has a loving mother, who immediately appealed the findings of her WCA. Ruth Anim is lucky. Unlike Michelle Barker, Cecelia Anim is the deputy president of the Royal College of Nursing.

This meant that over the last few days, Ruth Anim’s case has received greater media coverage than Liam Barker’s case did. The Guardian and BBC websites both covered the story in articles. Friday’s Guardian letters section was dedicated to the issue of disability benefits, hooked on her story. The same day, BBC London News ran a TV piece about her.

On Friday, ATOS apologised to the Anims for the ‘error’ they made in finding Ruth fit for work. It is to be hoped that the Barkers have received a similar apology for the distress caused to them by the DWP’s recent letter. But there is a strong possibility that the Anims would not have received an apology if Cecelia Anim did not have a high profile.

Like the Barkers, Cecelia Anim realises that other disabled people may not have the support her daughter has. She wants to challenge the current system.

Cecelia and Ruth Anim may have won their appeal for now, but Ruth will be assessed again in two years.

Ruth Anim and Liam Barker may have very different disabilities, but sadly, benefit assessments have placed them in very similar situations. Both are severely disabled. It is clear to anyone who hears their stories that neither will be any more fit for work in two years’ time than they are today.

That’s why assessing either of them again will be a greater waste of government time and taxpayers’ money than simply providing both of them with the benefits they are so clearly genuinely entitled to. This is without taking into consideration the emotional stress that will be caused to them and their parent carers by the process, first of attending assessments and later of appealing against wrong decisions.

When I was trying hard to publicise the case of Liam Barker online two weeks ago, someone suggested that a database should be kept of people who are too severely disabled to ever be fit for work. This is an idea that should be given serious consideration by all relevant government departments.

Because the next severely disabled person who is threatened with, or sent to, a WCA may not have supportive, high profile parents. They may not have the ability to appeal if they are wrongly found fit for work. They may not be able to do anything but suffer in silence.

Yesterday at the Conservative Party Conference, the Chancellor, George Osborne, revealed plans to cut another £10 billion from the welfare budget. He did not specifically mention disability benefits in this speech.

Two weeks ago I hoped that we would never have to hear of another Liam Barker. And weeks later, George Osborne’s plans have again filled me with fear, and doubt.

If you or someone you know is in a similar position, please email indyvoices@independent.co.uk 

The Independent

Comments
  • Humanity2012 October 10, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    This Evil State of Affairs Crys Out for Political and Economic Revolution to
    End the Power of the Tory Toffs and so Never Again will there be a Tory Government

    They did NOT have a Majority and Shame upon the Liberal Democrats for being
    their Lobby Fodder Sheep

  • jeffery davies October 10, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    and that will be our lot go quietly the sick and disabled go quietly please dont make afuss as i given into the torys allowing them these cuts so that you die so please go quietly make your way its only like sleeping please go quietly jeff3

  • jed goodright October 10, 2012 at 8:07 pm

    I think the time for talking has to cease. We should burn their bloody houses down. Nothing short of using ‘disproportionate’ force will do

  • Andrew Healey October 10, 2012 at 10:48 pm

    I have my paperwork as I have appealed against AtoS decision. Their medical assessor has said in his report that, the claimed level of disability is consistent with medical reports, (this is a degenerative disease ). But here’s the rub, I will be fit for work in two years, my support ends in approx six month. I am appealing against being put in the WRAG. Over the last four months my condition has worsened 25% and now the temperature is dropping it is getting worse by the day. I’ve already increased my morphine by 75%. Who knows I may die of an overdose before next March the pain is almost unbearable now and that is with the morphine. I cannot get any help from the C.A.B as they have a backlog of almost 16 months, I have no family to help, I am trying to do this on my own but I will fight these fascist bastards to my last breath. I feel as though the country my grandfather fought for on the Somme where he lost a leg and my father fought for in Africa and at Monte Casino he ended up with a metal plate in his skull, has been taken over by the NAZIS anyway. Just what do these silver spoon feed, spoiled brats know about hard work, they never worked for anything in their pampered lives, they have inherited the wealth their tax dodging parents filtered out of the country. They don’t even live off that they live off what they steal from us taxpayers. They should all be hanged drawn and quartered for the terrorists and traitors they are.

    • sue mccafferty October 11, 2012 at 10:09 am

      Well said Andrew! Keep going, don’t let them win.

  • Ron October 11, 2012 at 12:58 pm

    is it true that they will nt be issuing blue badges and removing diabled parking spaces from our high streets because there won’t be any disabled people after2015?

  • kasbah October 11, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    I agree that the time for talking has passed. we’ve tried and tried. they have ignored and ignored. Does anyone think women would have won the vote without resorting to civil disobedience? Or the workers at the turn of the century- would they have won rights without demonstrating and civil disobedience? Would they heck!

    It’s time to get tough, just like they’ve been violent to us, we now need to give them a short sharp shock taste of their own medicine. It’s the only language these bully upper class twits understand. Think of the Rebecca Riots!

  • Rosa October 13, 2012 at 8:58 pm

    Andrew Healey
    I have my paperwork as I have appealed against AtoS decision. Their medical assessor has said in his report that, the claimed level of disability is consistent with medical reports, (this is a degenerative disease ). But here’s the rub, I will be fit for work in two years, my support ends in approx six month. I am appealing against being put in the WRAG. Over the last four months my condition has worsened 25% and now the temperature is dropping it is getting worse by the day. I’ve already increased my morphine by 75%. Who knows I may die of an overdose before next March the pain is almost unbearable now and that is with the morphine. I cannot get any help from the C.A.B as they have a backlog of almost 16 months, I have no family to help, I am trying to do this on my own but I will fight these fascist bastards to my last breath. I feel as though the country my grandfather fought for on the Somme where he lost a leg and my father fought for in Africa and at Monte Casino he ended up with a metal plate in his skull, has been taken over by the NAZIS anyway. Just what do these silver spoon feed, spoiled brats know about hard work, they never worked for anything in their pampered lives, they have inherited the wealth their tax dodging parents filtered out of the country. They don’t even live off that they live off what they steal from us taxpayers. They should all be hanged drawn and quartered for the terrorists and traitors they are.

    kasbah
    I agree that the time for talking has passed. we’ve tried and tried. they have ignored and ignored. Does anyone think women would have won the vote without resorting to civil disobedience? Or the workers at the turn of the century- would they have won rights without demonstrating and civil disobedience? Would they heck!
    It’s time to get tough, just like they’ve been violent to us, we now need to give them a short sharp shock taste of their own medicine. It’s the only language these bully upper class twits understand. Think of the Rebecca Riots!

    • Rosa October 13, 2012 at 9:19 pm

      i totally agree with your and Kasbah’s comments – have been thinking also about what the women’s suffrage movement did: basically smashing things or self-harming by suicide/hunger strikes. Am seriously considering the hunger strike option …(with maximum publicity of course) so fed up with this outrageous cruelty and indifference. My ancestors came to this country and helped make it rich (they brought their own money and labor skills to start small businesses and worked hard). We are from many generations of “East End” people. Many of them died fighting for this country in both “world wars” some were imprisoned in and died in the Nazi camps. I am damned if I am going to sit by and watch all this. I’d sooner perish. My family of this generation work very hard to support their families in professional jobs. The money they pay in taxes etc. is more than enough to support and pay for those in our own family who need welfare. Some folk are not so fortunate and they should be supported and assisted too by the community – demonizing everyone who is unfortunate enough not be rolling in money is a shameful tactic. I do not want to live anywhere ruled by people who worship Mammon. But where is there to go now? The whole world seems to be going crazy with vileness towards the poorer people, the vulnerable, those who cannot do what they would do if they were well enough to. Something very extraordinary is going to happen soon ….just what I do not know … but this cannot go on much longer …too many have been lost unjustly.

  • sunsine31 November 2, 2012 at 11:56 am

    I don’t understand why non disabled middle income families believe the shit they are spoon fed by the gov/newspapers? when are the newspapers going to stand up and shout about whats really happening.
    I am scared. I am currently waiting for a benefit person to visit about housing benefit I am going to have a fight on my hands because my daughter is away at university they class her as not living here but she does when shes not at university where is she meant to go? so will i be charged for one spare room or two? I will have to pay an extra £128 per month that is my DLA , the money I use to make my life bearable, like all disabled people I have extra costs to pay, that I wont be able to anymore I am yet to find out how much council tax I will have to pay on top.
    I dont see the point of being here, I struggle to get by now without all this extra stuff on top !

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