Government to repay Hackney man with no legs whose benefits were cut because he ‘could climb stairs with his arms’
PUBLISHED: 07:00 28 February 2017 | UPDATED: 11:47 28 February 2017
The Department for Work and Pensions admits it “ticked the wrong box” when it deemed a double amputee capable of “climbing” the stairs with his arms and thus “fit to work”.
Julius Holgate, who lives in Hackney, has won his appeal against the DWP’s “outrageous” decision after the intervention of the Hackney Community Law Centre (HCLC).
He fell into debt and was reduced to pawning his jewellery to survive after he was awarded zero points in a medical assessment, meaning and his Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) was stopped in January. Following last week’s decision, he will be repaid the cash he missed out on.
At the time the DWP said because Julius’ arms were working order, he could use them to “climb” stairs and therefore had “mobility”. The department has now backed down and apologised, saying the decision was a “clerical error”.
Julius said the DWP should be more careful when assessing people.
“I’m just still sorry other people will have to go through what I have been through,” he said. “This all caused me a lot of stress and anxiety.” Julius’ HCLC caseworker Marcin Brajta said the law centre had seen many similar cases because of government cuts, meaning fewer DWP assessors are available to conduct medical assessments.
“The assessors that remain are not given enough time to assess applicants properly,” he said.
But he added: “Julius can now get on with his life without worrying about having to attend the job centre, which was adversely affecting his health.”
HCLC chair Cllr Ian Rathbone said the cut to Julius’s benefits was “callous and cold-hearted”, adding the DWP’s apology – “squeezed out after they were caught out” – is not enough.
“We want to see changes of direction here, of sympathy and care for people in their time of need,” he said.
A DWP spokesman said: “When someone comes in for an assessment they are asked to do a number of actions, and the way the scores were translated caused a clerical error.”