Witnesses told the Welfare Reform Committee the UK government’s welfare reforms were “completely heartless” on 5 February 2013.
Marlene Hepburn, from Stirling, Ian Megahy, from Hamilton, South Lanarkshire and Lesley McMurchie appeared before the committee as part of its “Your Say” appeal for testimony on the impact of the Department of Work and Pensions benefit reforms.
Mrs McMurchie told MSPs the reforms had created a “very sick system” which did not have the people at its heart and needed to be “totally overhauled”.
She had earlier explained the Atos assessment of her husband who retired five years ago due to physical and mental health problems.
He was reclassified as “fit to work” after his assessment.
“This is supposed to be an improvement in the benefits system…well words fail me!”
Ms Hepburn, a former teacher with MS, was reclassified as “fit for work” after five years on incapacity benefit.
She told MSPs the reforms had led to a system that was “too bureaucratic” and “completely heartless”, adding “people will suffer”.
Earlier Ms Hepburn read from her submission:
“My fear is that this whole experience will trigger a relapse,” she said. “The emotional stress has been enormous and has had a detrimental impact on my health.
“I appreciate the benefits system needs to be reformed but not to the detriment of genuine claimants.”
Last week, the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) revealed more than a quarter of Scots on incapacity benefit prior to October 2010 had now been reclassified as “fit for work” – in excess of 17,000 people.
Ian Megahy from Hamilton, South Lanarkshire also appeared before the committee as part of its “Your Say” appeal for testimony on the impact of the Department of Work and Pensions benefit reforms.
Mr Megahy, a former veterinary surgeon with debilitating chronic pain condition fibromyalgia, was reclassified as “fit for work” after eight years on incapacity benefit.
He told MSPs the reforms were:
“particularly offensive, so sore, demoralising”
“we all are trying our very, very best” and “DWP and ATOS penalises those who do try”.