Mother left 'depressed and sick' by DWP treatment of disabled son

Thursday, April 4, 2019

The mother of a severely disabled man forced to take part in a work assessment interview has said she feels “frustrated and penalised” by the benefits system.

Scott Harrison, 20, cannot walk or talk, is partially sighted, and wears hearing aids in both ears due to a rare chromosome disorder.

Despite this, Scott was forced to travel to a local job centre so Department of Work and Pensions staff could check he wasn’t able to work, according to his mother Anya Sparks.

 Speaking to talkRADIO’s James Whale, Ms Sparks said: “I’m so stressed with it all, I’m exhausted, I’m tired, I’m angry, I’m frustrated and I feel penalised.

 “I’m just stressed out, and there are so many people like Scott out there. It’s ridiculous, it shouldn’t be this hard.”

Currently Scott receives around £560 a month through his Personal Independence Payment, however Ms Sparks said the majority of this is spent on medical equipment due to Scott’s severe bowel problem.

She said they are struggling to make ends meet and fears she may be made homeless after Scott’s child benefit payment was cut off on his 20th birthday, leaving her unable to pay rent.

Despite DWP staff “clearly acknowledging” Scott’s condition at the interview, Ms Sparks said she is still receiving texts asking her to complete medical forms indicating whether he can walk.

She added: “I’ve spent 20 years explaining to professionals and benefits people my son’s condition and I’m tired of doing it. Scott has a 20-year paper trail, I’m not hiding anything, and I’m not lying.

"I just feel so low and depressed with to all because I’m trying to do the best for my family and do right by him. I’m so sick of having to prove it."

A DWP spokesperson told talkRADIO: “For information we initially asked Mr Harrison to attend the job centre because his mother incorrectly stated that he had a health condition but was able to work.

“Now this has been cleared up, we’re not asking him to look for work at all or to attend job centre appointments. There have been no delays to his payment at all.

“Ms Sparks continues to receive income support and job centre staff have tried to contact her to set up her universal credit claim.”

 

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