A double amputee told by the Department for Work and Pensions that he was “fit for work” as he could “climb stairs with his arms” has won an appeal against the judgement.
Julius Holgate, from Hackney, London, was told by government officials that because his arms were in working order he could use them to “climb” stairs and have “mobility”.
The decision caused Holgate to fall into debt and even pawn jewellery to access funds after a medical assessment gave him zero points towards accessing an Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).
But the DWP has now admitted this decision was a “clerical error” after campaigning by the Hackney Community Law Centre.
A DWP spokesman said on Wednesday: “We have apologised to Mr Holgate for this clerical error, and we are reconsidering his claim.”
The department had previously explained: “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.”
The law centre’s chair, Councillor Ian Rathbone, described the cut to Holgate’s benefits as “callous and cold-hearted”.
He told The Huffington Post UK: “The government needs to stop using these private companies. They are no good. They have targets and they miss stuff. If someone can walk two or three steps it does not mean they can work. It is wrong.
“Over sixty percent of cases [that go to court] are overturned. For people like Julius they might struggle to find the money to do it.
“We would like to see the government restore legal aid as there are now a whole range of problems for people on benefits who suffer because they can’t receive legal aid.”
Kenny Bailey, who has trouble walking and needs assistance to get dressed, underwent an individual assessment requested by the Department of Work and Pensions.
They deemed him able to work despite him being paralysed down his left side and suffering from memory problems.
Bailey later had his benefits reinstated after the decision was overturned following media coverage of his case.