Desperate disabled gran attempted suicide after brutal DWP cuts left her fearing she would lose her home
The woman’s son has accused the company which carries out fitness-to-work assessment of lying
A disabled grandmother attempted suicide because she feared losing her home because she was ruled fit to work.
The 60-year-old’s family say she only survived because her daughter discovered her close to death.
Despite having a string of health problems, including cerebral palsy and a twisted spine, the woman was told she would lose her employment support allowance.
Now her furious son has accused Maximus – which carries out fit-to-work tests for the DWP – of driving her to it by lying, the Daily Record reports.
She took powerful pills after receiving a letter informing her of the decision.
She has been in hospital since last Wednesday.
Relatives revealed the mum of two, whom the Record has chosen not to name for privacy reasons, was born with cerebral palsy and a twisted spine.
She has arthritis in her spine, hands, legs, feet and neck as well as suffering from fibromyalgia, a condition that causes pain all over the body.
But the family insist she has never suffered from mental health problems.
Her son claims assessors lied about his mother’s capabilities during the meeting last month, which was witnessed by her daughter.
He said that despite her complex medical history and mobility issues, they gave her zero points in the work capability assessment, leaving her ineligible for her employment support allowance and in fear that her housing support would be removed.
The son said: “She thought she was going to lose her house and she tried to take her life. She was in the intensive care unit at Glasgow Royal Infirmary.
“The doctors couldn’t tell me if she was going to make it at first. They don’t know if there has been any permanent damage to her kidney and her liver.”
The gran is also in receipt of disability living allowance, a benefit which the DWP maintain is handled separately from ESA and will not be affected by the latest assessment.
Her son described how his sister found their mum barely clinging to life.
He said: “She was freezing cold and wasn’t breathing properly and had to be resuscitated. She had taken strong painkillers and various different pills.”
He added the report from assessors at the Maximus centre on Cadogan Street, Glasgow, had a number of errors.
He said: “My mum is severely disabled. The report said that during the medical, she bent down and picked something off the floor and raised her hands fully above her head. They say she had full movement in her spine.
“My sister attended the medical with my mum because she’s not able to go on her own and because she wears splints to walk and needs a stick. She said none of this happened.
“They also said my mum was smartly dressed but she turned up in a pair of jogging bottoms and a T-shirt because that’s the easiest thing for my sister to get her dressed in.
“I just don’t know how they can tell these lies. This is a real disabled person. Every doctor and consultant she has seen all say she’s not fit for work.
“Real medical professionals can see that but these people in Cadogan Street are lying to get people taken off benefits who are genuinely ill.
“These medical interviews should be video-recorded to make sure they cannot tell lies.
“There is no wonder people like mum are turning to drastic measures.
“She has never even been as much as depressed before. She’s always been a wee strong woman who, despite her illnesses, has tried to push through.”
The woman’s MP, Alison Thewliss, is set to raise her case at Westminster after being contacted by the family. She said: “This is a really harrowing case which shows the serious and damaging effects work capability assessments can have on people – particularly those who are vulnerable.
“I am devastated that my constituent felt they had no option but to attempt to take their own life in the aftermath of a medical assessment.
“The letter received by my constituent was apparently strewn with inaccuracies and misinformation regarding their medical conditions.
“It is unacceptable that these inhumane assessments can be allowed to continue in their current form. There is no excuse for a system which is as cruel as it is incompetent. The lives of vulnerable people are at stake.”
SNP MP Thewliss urged anyone in a similar position to seek help from welfare rights advisers and MPs.
Nearly two-thirds of disabled Scots who appeal a UK Government decision that they are “fit to work” have their challenges upheld, figures revealed last month.
Labour renewed calls to scrap the system after the figures were revealed.
But the DWP said only a small proportion of all decisions are overturned at appeal. The vast majority of successful appeals are on the grounds of new evidence from the claimant.
In the case of the gran who attempted suicide, the decision will be the subject of a mandatory review.
But in many cases the appeal process can take up to several months to complete, with benefits being cut with immediate effect.
Commenting on this particular case, a DWP spokesman said:
“Decisions are made following consideration of all the information provided by the claimant, including supporting evidence from their GP or medical professional.
“These decisions carry a right to appeal and additional information can be provided to support a claim.”
The Record contacted Maximus for comment but they did not respond.