By Janice Burns 24 Nov 2012 07:45
THE Work and Pensions Secretary’s cold reply told 13-year-old Kieran McArdle to visit JobCentre to find out about his dad’s disability appeal.
TORY minister Iain Duncan Smith was blasted yesterday for sending an insulting letter to a boy who said the strain of a back-to-work test killed his disabled dad.
Kieran McArdle was sickened by the coldness of the reply, which ended by suggesting he contact the Jobcentre about his dead dad Brian’s appeal.
The weasel-worded letter, which addresses Kieran, 13, as Mr McArdle, offers the welfare chief’s condolences but then tries to defend the Government’s record on the disabled.
It ends with a “cut and paste” invitation to make an appointment at a Jobcentre to find out more about “the outcome of your father’s claim”.
Stroke victim Brian, 57, died a day after his disability benefits were stopped.
Kieran became the face of the Record’s campaign for a fair system that protects disabled people after he wrote a letter insisting his dad was “hounded to death” when he was assessed fit for work by Atos, the firm used by Duncan Smith’s Department for Work and Pensions.
We hand-delivered the letter to IDS’s Whitehall office the next day and he promised to write to Kieran.
Despite waiting 21 days for Duncan Smith’s letter, Kieran, of Larkhall, Lanarkshire, was bitterly disappointed with his response, saying it was a waste of time.
Duncan Smith wrote: “I was very sorry to read of your father’s death. I offer my sincere condolences to you and your family at this time.
“I know nothing I can say will do anything to ease the pain of losing your father, but I’d like to explain why the Government’s reforms to the sickness benefits system are so important and how much work we’re doing to make the process as fair as possible.
“I know this will be a difficult time for you and I’m grateful this was brought to my attention.”
Iain Duncan Smith blasted on Question Time over Kieran McArdle
The letter is machine- printed on DWP paper, with the only sign of humanity an illegible scrawl – presumably Duncan Smith’s signature
Kieran had hoped for an apology and an explanation for his dad’s treatment that would have given hime some closure.
Brian was left paralysed from a stroke on Boxing Day last year. But he was still ordered to an Atos “work capability assessment” – part of the Con-Dem Government’s bid to cut billions in benefits.
A month later, Brian got a letter telling him he would lose his disability benefits on September 26. The day after his benefits were axed, Brian collapsed and died.
Kieran said he felt sick when he read Duncan Smith’s letter, adding: “To end it by offering to speak to me about my dad’s appeal was heartless. What good is an appeal now?
“It hasn’t answered any questions. All I got was the same old rubbish the Government spin every time they are criticised.
“I want an apology for the way my dad was treated and for the thousands of other disabled people being targeted in this disgusting way.
“I want them to admit they made a mistake by hounding my dad and stripping him of his dignity and ultimately his life.
“I can’t grieve for my dad until I get answers because I am so angry.”
Stuffed shirt Iain Duncan Smith fails to show ounce of compassion