Six-stone emaciated man who fought DWP after being denied vital benefits dies

‘Stephen Smith, from Kensington , passed away on Monday, after struggling with a number of severe health problems -‘

From Liverpool Echo-

‘A six-stone emaciated man who was deemed “fit to find work” by the DWP has died.

Stephen Smith, from Kensington , died on Monday, after struggling with a number of severe health problems.

The ECHO highlighted Mr Smith’s story after a fitness for work assessment by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) saw him denied vital benefits.

Stephen Smith has now won a judgement against the DWP’s decision (Image: Liverpoool Echo)

Readers were horrified after s hocking images showed the 64-year-old emaciated in hospital – after he was admitted with pneumonia.

However, despite his glaringly obvious poor health and worrying weight loss, Mr Smith, was forced to get a pass out from hospital to go and fight a decision by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) – which repeatedly denied him crucial benefits  and insisted he was fit and capable of finding work.

He won the appeal after a tribunal judge saw he could barely walk down the street let alone hold down a job.

Stephen Smith was taken off ESA benefits despite a range of serious health problems (Image: Liverpoool Echo)

And after finally agreeing to re-instate his ESA, the DWP informed the ECHO he would also receive back-payments for the money he was wrongly denied.

Today friends of the Liverpool man confirmed the sad news of his death with one describing him as “a good soul of the earth”.

One friend said: “He never really recovered from the pneumonia. He was a good soul of the earth. He would do anything for anyone.”

Stephen Smith with welfare advisor Terry Craven (l) and Tony Nelson of the CASA in Hope Street

Mr Smith suffered with a number of serious conditions for several years, including Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, excruciating Osteoarthritis, an enlarged prostate and he used a colostomy bag to go to the toilet.

Despite all of this, he failed a DWP work capability assesment in 2017 – which meant his ESA payments were stopped and he was told to sign on for a £67 a week Jobseeker’s Allowance, visit the job centre once a week and prove he was looking for work.

Throughout this period, Mr Smith was living alone and didn’t know where to turn as his health deteriorated.

He said: “I could only make it to the kitchen to make food once a day.

“I had no muscles in the back of my leg which meant I couldn’t stand up at all – and had to lean or sit down all the time – but they were telling me I was fit for work.”

Stephen Smith in hospital over the Christmas period (Image: Liverpool Echo)

Mr Smith enlisted the help of the CASA community centre in Hope Street which offers support to people like Stephen.

And Tony Nelson – who runs the centre introduced Mr Smith to Terry Craven, a former city council welfare officer who works at the CASA advising people on benefit claims.

After Mr Smith was denied ESA, Terry took up his case and battled with the DWP to get him the benefits he knew he deserved.

Following the successful appeal of his case a DWP spokesman said: “We are sorry for the experience Mr Smith has had and we are committed to ensuring that people with health conditions get the support they’re entitled to.

“Following the independent tribunal’s ruling, he is now receiving full ESA support. While Mr Smith continued to receive benefits and support during his appeal, we can confirm he will shortly receive all back-payments for ESA due.”

The ECHO understands a service for Mr Smith will be held on Friday at 4pm at Anfield Crematorium.’

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