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Severely disabled man who can't speak, read, wash, clothe or feed himself ordered to prove he is unfit for work by Department for Work and Pensions

Published 02/09/2015

The DWP was ordered to release the death statistics by the Information Commissioner
The DWP was ordered to release the death statistics by the Information Commissioner

A man with autism, epilepsy and Down’s syndrome has been ordered to complete a detailed 20-page work capability assessment to prove he is unfit for employment.

Stuart Chester, 25, lives in Glasgow with his mum and full-time carer Deborah McKenzie, 51, who said he had previously been told that he would get the Disability Living Allowance for the rest of his life because there is no chance of his condition improving.

Government officials said he will be reviewed for employment support every three years.

“There is no way he could work and this is just causing a lot of undue stress and anxiety,” she told The Daily Record. “I am his full-time carer and there is no way my son could work.”

She added that he needed round the clock care, “cannot feed or wash himself, and he has a lot of accidents toilet-wise.”

“I have to do everything for him,” she said.

Ms McKenzie claimed that upon phoning the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) about her son's inability to complete the form, she was told to fill it in ‘just like everyone else’.

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The form arrived just days after DWP figures revealed that thousands of people have died within six weeks of being found “fit to work” by the Government’s disability benefits test.

The Department for Work and Pensions battled for months not to release the numbers, with its chief minister Iain Duncan Smith at one point telling Parliament they did not exist.

But the statistics, released on the order of the Government’s transparency watchdog, show that between December 2011 and February 2014, 2,380 people died after their Work Capability Assessment told them they should start looking for work.

The figures related to claims for the Employment and Support Allowance benefit as well as Incapacity Benefit Severe Disablement Allowance.

The DWP’s mortality report said that a causal effect cannot be assumed from the new numbers.

“These isolated figures provide limited scope for analysis and nothing can be gained from this publication that would allow the reader to form any judgement as to the effects or impacts of the Work Capability Assessment,” it said.

The DWP, which is responsible for the benefits system, initially rejected a freedom of information request by campaigning journalist Mike Sivier on the grounds that it would publish them in future.

But Mr Sivier won an appeal to the Information Commissioner (ICO), an official body which judges whether government departments are acting in a fully transparent way.

The ICO said the Government had no good reason to withhold the figures.

It prompted the frontrunner for the Labour leadership, Jeremy Corbyn, to call for Iain Duncan Smith’s resignation.

“He should never have been appointed. Yes, he should resign because these figures are so frightening and so disgusting,” he told a hustings event hosted by the Daily Mirror newspaper.


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