Heart-attack victim in cash-axe shock

Date published: 31 January 2014

A MAN forced to give up work with heart problems had his benefits axed for failing to complete a capability assessment... after suffering a heart attack during the examination.

The man, who received employment support allowance, was required to attend a work-capability assessment to assess his suitability for work.

During the appointment he was told he was having a heart attack, forcing the nurse to stop the assessment.

Two weeks later he got a letter from Jobcentre Plus saying he had withdrawn from the assessment and was being sanctioned. The man took his case to Oldham East and Saddleworth MP Debbie Abrahams.

A spokesman for the MP said: “It is meeting constituents with terrible stories like this that spurred Debbie on to publicly question Iain Duncan Smith and make the Government face the consequences of benefit sanctions policies.

“No-one’s saying people on benefits shouldn’t have to look for work when appropriate. But this government is going beyond the pale in using underhand tactics to force vulnerable people off benefits to massage the unemployment data.”

The man is one of a string of people who have spoken to the MP, whose campaigning has forced a Work and Pensions Committee review into the matter.

An anonymous woman was sanctioned after missing an appointment despite phoning on the morning of her assessment to explain her difficulty in attending due to widespread arthritis and the need for two knee replacements. The DWP wrote to say they “doubt the reasons she provided”.

Another man began claiming Jobseekers’ Allowance in November 2012 after living off a redundancy payment. He received a letter from Jobcentre Plus in Preston saying his allowance was stopped on May 15 2013 because he had failed to attend an interview the day before. In fact he HAD attended and saw an adviser — just not the one he was scheduled to see, because he was unavailable.

Despite the Jobcentre’s mistake the man was told his only course is to appeal or submit a new claim — which put him overdrawn at the bank. The MP’s spokesman added: “I am very concerned about the rising number of cases coming to me of increased use of sanctions. The knock-on effect of unfair sanctions is financial hardship and poverty for people already living on low incomes.”

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