DWP apologises AGAIN as Hartlepool man receives second health assessment form weeks after winning appeal following ‘wrongful’ decision

Benefits chiefs have apologised to a Hartlepool man yet again after a second capability to work assessment application landed on his doormat - just weeks after he won an appeal when his benefits were cut.

Sunday, 24th March 2019, 11:12 am
Updated Sunday, 24th March 2019, 11:18 am
Ian Fewster protesting outside of the assessment centre, Park Tower, Stockton Street. Picture by FRANK REID
Ian Fewster protesting outside of the assessment centre, Park Tower, Stockton Street. Picture by FRANK REID

Ian Fewster took to the streets outside the assessment centre in Hartlepool to protest what he calls the “unfair assessments”, which saw his benefits cut.

The 60-year-old suffered a serious spinal injury more than 15 years ago and has struggled to walk ever since.

The former businessman appealed the decision following an health assessment in October last year which found him fit to work and no longer entitled to Employment and Support Allowance and cut £200 a month from his benefits.

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Winning his case, he told his story to the Mail to remind others they can fight ‘wrongful or unfair’ assessments.

But weeks later he received a letter through the door from the Department of Work and Pensions to fill out an application to attend another health assessment - 18 months too early.

“There just doesn’t seem to be any accountability,” said the 60-year-old.

“No one seems to take any responsibility for anything that goes wrong.

“I’m lucky in a way, I suffered with serious mental health issues in 2005 and I received a lot of support and spent two years working with Mind.

“I look at life a different way now and I try not to let little things get on top of me.

“When you read the letter it’s frightening, you only have a short time that this has to be completed and if they don’t receive it you will have your benefits cut. It’s a lot of stress and pressure for the most vulnerable.

“It’s seemed to be worded in a way to make you panic.

“Luckily it came to me. This could have gone to someone who was right on the brink it could have pushed them over the edge.

“When this DWP envelope lands on your doormat you know what it is. Straight away your heart rate starts to increase because you know whatever is there if you don’t jump through their hoops the right way you will lose out on your benefits.

“We’ve lost something in society we have lost of our humanity as a society - our empathy.”

Having called the DWP, Mr Fewster was told it was a computer glitch and the letter had been sent in error.

But he’s now questioning how his journal, which he was told is only completed by an employee, also tells him to complete the form.

“My initial thought was ‘are they doing this to me because I took a stand and protested so they thought they would pull me back through the system as a way to punish me,” said Mr Fewster, who is registered disabled.

“I calmed down and I know it’s not personal. I spoke to them and they said it was an error caused by a computer glitch.

“If that was the case why was it in my journal, which they say is entered manually by an employee.

“Only three weeks ago I was told it had been accepted that I was no longer forced to work.

“They could have stopped that from coming out to me if they’d read my history.”

Mr Fewster says the additional stress caused to him could have been prevented if someone had taken the time to read his history and see he only had an assessment carried out five months ago.

A DWP spokesman said: “We will be in contact with Mr Fewster to apologise as the forms were sent to him in error. He continues to receive his benefit in full.”