Watch: UK welfare reforms “completely heartless” witnesses today told the Scottish Parliament’s Welfare Reform Committee today




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”

adding that 

“we all are trying our very, very best” and “DWP and ATOS penalises those who do try”.



  • Diane February 5, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    what about someone with severe mental health problems with lets say schizophrenia, who from extreme stress/a bad attack of their condition attacks and/or kills someone on lets say work programme…who foots the bill for the dead person’s family? and how can a person be fit for work according to the govt and yet not legally responsible due to their mental health state. if someone has the wisdom of solomon can they please answer this question

    • Looolooo May 16, 2014 at 6:56 am

      If a person is that severely mentally I’ll, he/she should not be legally permitted to receive any benefits or live independently. He/she should be a ward in a psychiatric care facility, where he/she would be medicated and monitored as to prevent such happenstances. Problem solved-murder prevented.

      -My goodness UK! Somebody’s got to work in order to generate taxes, in order to give those hard earned tax dollars to people who don’t work.

  • jay February 5, 2013 at 6:04 pm

    It’s good to see this being discussed but better if it was in Parliament in London as the Scottish Parliament can do little about the current situation

    I would agree with all the points those have made in their testimony. But I would take issue with the comment “people will suffer.”

    They already are and some have paid the ultimate price with their lives because of this inhumane assessment.

    The DWP says a quarter of those on IB have been reclassified as fit for work but does this figure take into account all the appeals launched during the timeframe mentioned?

    What I and many would like to know is, How many people were classified as fit for work after being assessed by Atos?

    By that I mean excluding appeals, just the straight figure and % of how many people assessed by Atos were declared fit for work right after their WCA

    It is a statistic that the DWP don’t seem to be very forthcoming with.

  • Jamie February 6, 2013 at 11:41 pm

    I would like to emphasise the fact that the people referred to above (as many others on Incapacity / ESA) and have already been through the pain of being forced to give evidence up work. I dropped a day and the stress that decision caused me was huge.

    These people have got to the point of not being physically /mentally capable of dragging themselves into work any more. They’ve then gone through the process of proving they’re genuine before being forced onto benefits.

    Now that process is being rubbished and pushed aside. What an insult to honest, tax paying citizens.

    All this because the suits can’t admit they were wrong and incapable of designing a proper / fair system.

    I’m pleased the Scottish Parliament was prepared to listen to these submissions but unfortunately Jay is right. It’s the wrong parliament.

  • Mo Stewart February 13, 2013 at 12:01 am

    Concerned at how much this Chairman appears not to know about Atos

  • You must be logged in to comment. Log in
%d bloggers like this: