DWP lacks ‘compassion’ and ‘common sense’ after deeming dying man fit for work, MP says

Newcastle North MP Catherine McKinnell says there has been a huge increase in people being refused help who clearly need it

Quoted from Chronicle Live-

“A Newcastle MP has slammed the Department for Work and Pensions after a dying man was deemed fit for work.

Newcastle North MP Catherine McKinnell says the DWP has a “lack of compassion” and “common sense” when dealing with people claiming benefits.

It comes after ChronicleLive reported that decision-makers deemed Darryl Nicholson fit for workdespite doctors saying his chronic lung condition could kill him within two years.

His benefits were cut and the 47-year-old, of Kenton , Newcastle, was left with just £15 per week to buy food.

Mr Nicholson contacted Ms McKinnell for support and she has been working to get his Employment Support Allowance (ESA) reinstated.

She said: “Sadly, the way he has been treated by the DWP is entirely reflective of the huge increase I’ve seen in recent years in the number of people who quite clearly need support, but are being refused this as a result of the Government’s welfare reforms.

“People with extremely serious, and even life-threatening, health conditions are being assessed as ‘fit for work’, whilst disabled people are seeing their levels of support wrongly slashed – often leaving them unable to leave the house, or having to choose between heating and eating.”

She said this along with the “shambolic roll-out” of Universal Credit, which Newcastle was a pilot area, is leaving people in dire financial circumstances.

“The lack of compassion, and even basic common sense, shown by DWP decision-makers in the large number of constituency cases I support demonstrates that our entire welfare system is completely flawed, and is letting down far too many people, far too often,” she said.

Darryl Nicholson
Darryl Nicholson (Image: Newcastle Chronicle)

Mr Nicholson has stage three emphysema – a form of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease – which causes the destruction of the lungs.

After attending a mandatory back to work capability assessment for the DWP but was told he could work, with a mandatory reconsideration also rejected.

Now, he is awaiting tribunal but in the meantime has been put onto Universal Credit and has just £236 per month live off compared to £474 per month he received on ESA.

He has been living on just one meal per day, or going without food, which means he’s also struggling to take his medication on a completely empty stomach.

Ms McKinnell said: “Many people – such as Mr Nicholson – understandably assume that the welfare system will be there for them in their hour of need, but that just simply isn’t the case, with the DWP getting far too many decisions wrong.

MP Catherine McKinnell
MP Catherine McKinnell (Image: Newcastle Chronicle)

“It’s totally unacceptable that people who already face very significant challenges are then left fighting the system in order to receive the support they’re entitled to, whilst also having to deal with serious health conditions, disabilities or terminal illness. This is just so wrong.””

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