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Farron slams “shameful” DWP over breaking promise to stop re-testing claimants with lifelong illnesses

September 13, 2017 9:51 PM
Originally published by Tim Farron

Tim with John Heaton and Kath Dunning

Tim Farron has slammed the Government for lying to local people over plans to stop re-testing benefit claimants who have long-term chronic illnesses such as Huntingdon's, MS, and Parkinson's.

Back in October last year, the then Secretary of State at the Department for Work and Pensions, Damien Green, said that they would no longer reassessing benefits for those who have long-term sickness as it is "pointless" and "only adds to their anxiety and difficulties".

However, a freedom of information request from Tim Farron has revealed that the DWP never intended to carry out of this proposal as they do not even record data which is exclusively related to chronic illnesses.

Tim said: "The Government have let down millions of people across the country who have chronic diseases with another shameful U-turn. This pathetic decision to break their promise on re-testing benefit claimants who have long term illnesses will cause more misery and discomfort for many people up and down the country who continue to be dragged to medical assessments just because the DWP can't be bothered to make records of who is chronically ill."

An example of someone who the Government has broken their promise to is John Heaton. John has a degenerative brain disease and severe obstructive pulmonary disease of which he has a sick note to cover him from his doctors. He is also suffering from a hip injury and extreme weight loss for which his dietician nurse makes home visits.

Kath Dunning, who is John's carer, said: "I received a letter from the DWP saying that John had missed a medical assessment. I rang the relevant authorities to tell them that I hadn't received a letter about the assessment. They told me to put it in writing which I did. They then replied four weeks later after numerous phone calls from myself to say that they were upholding their decision. This meant that I would have to take it to a tribunal and John would have to apply for Jobseeker's Allowance. For me the current system is a joke and doesn't seem to care for the people who are ill."