Louise challenges Government over welfare regime

Louise Haigh, Member of Parliament for Sheffield Heeley, today challenged the government in the House of Commons over their “brutal” work capability tests after a “harrowing” case in her constituency.

The constituent, who requested that her identity be kept private, reported to Louise earlier this month that despite having suffered from three strokes and living with both epilepsy and a separate neurological condition which causes her to frequently lose consciousness, she was found ‘fit to work’ by the Government’s work-capability assessment “because she could move her hands”.

The Sheffield woman had to take the decision to the Magistrate’s Court where it was overturned by a judge who was reportedly “appalled at the decision”. The constituent reported that during the year she was fighting the case, she suffered serious financial hardship and considered “committing suicide, going so far as to plan ways in which to end her life”.

Commenting Louise said:

“The harrowing case of my constituent, found fit-for-work despite a string of serious health conditions and on dubious grounds is the human face of a welfare regime which is cruelly targeting the most vulnerable.”

“Figures which the Government were forced to release over the summer following challenges from campaigners, revealed that 2,380 people died in the year after claimants found they had been declared ‘fit-for-work’. These shocking figures come on the back of a damning cross-party report released in March which found that severe financial hardship caused by benefit cuts was forcing people to commit suicide.”

“It is clear the Government’s welfare regime is not fit-for-purpose, labelling those who cannot work due to serious health problems as “scroungers”. With further cuts announced by the Government in the budget, I am deeply concerned that the chilling case my constituent has shared with me will become yet more common.

You can see a video of the exchange with the employment Minister here.


Showing 1 reaction

  • Wendy Lowe
    commented 2015-09-26 00:07:12 +0100
    I have Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis. I live in fear of being re-assessed, and deemed ‘Fit to Work’. My health is fragile at best. Stress pushes me into relapse. I am a retired (at 30yrs old, on ill health grounds) Occupational Therapist. I know for minutes at a time, on a few days per month, I can manage little emails, like this. It took half an hour and 8 corrections. So far. I never know when, or for how long I might manage tiny tasks. There are no jobs like this. I now feel sick with pain. (after an hour break)

    I consider myself one of the lucky disabled people who can challenge the system. (In very short, very stressful bursts) This does not mean I am confident that the people who make such cruel decisions have any training or professionalism. The case you describe is all too common. Why can a Magistrates’ court judge not preview cases to stop them ever summoning suffering people to court? The government is committing a great crime against the disabled. I fear most for those with cognitive impairment. Not content with stealing Remploy (which enabled quality of life work roles, colleagues, and a valued role in society) from the Learning Disabled community, they now face sanctions and reduced JSA because I.D.S. has found them Fit to Work. (Yes…with support…like Remploy!)

    Sorry this dissolved into a Rage against the Machine, but I am sickened that the 21st Century United Kingdom Government can stoop to treating us so badly and calling us “Scroungers”. No the MPs who claim expenses for Moat Cleaning, and a Duck House are the scroungers, stealing public money for personal frivolities. He’s been promoted to the House of Lords. Not sanctioned.

    Best of luck Louise with your Digital and Information Ministerial roll. My prayers go with this email. – Wendy