Disability charities have responded angrily after it emerged that a disabled women was “forced to crawl up stairs” to attend a benefits assessment, declaring “no one should be forced to drag themselves up a staircase in order to attend their benefits appointment”.
Maria Quinn, 32, is partially sighted and walks with the aid of a wheeled frame, but was left feeling “humiliated” when she attended an assessment for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) with her lawyer only to find the Centre in Glasgow had no provision to accommodate her rollator.
Posing on Facebook, Ms Quin wrote: “Went for an ESA assessment & had 2 (sic) crawl up the stairs as my rollator isn’t allowed on their portable ramp.
“There is no ramp or flat entrance to the disability assessment building in Cadogan Street, Glasgow. That’s right folks.
“You read that correctly!”
She added: “I am partially sighted and stairs aren’t my best buds at the best of times but these are ye olde ultra solid not-concrete-but-possibly-some-sort-of-titanium-killer stairs.
“You know the ones. Crumbly ends from centuries of feet and furniture and goodness knows what.
“As I only had my rollator I was refused the portable ramp – it is for wheelchairs only.
“If I returned to my flat to get my chair I would have been late and turned away.”
James Taylor, head of policy at the disability charity Scope, called on the government to be more flexible in how it carries out benefit assessments for disabled people and take steps to ensure Centres are fully accessible.
Mr Taylor said: “No one should be forced to drag themselves up a staircase in order to attend their benefits appointment – to subject anyone to this level of humiliation is simply deplorable.
“We’ve heard too many stories of disabled people who are caused unnecessary anxiety or distress when attending benefits assessments – being forced to travel unreasonable distances for their appointments or struggling to access the centres themselves.
“Disabled people we speak to often tell us that a face-to-face assessment is not always the best method of assessment, due to accessibility.”
A spokesperson for the Department for Work and Pensions said: “Where an assessment centre isn’t directly accessible from the street level, we endeavour to make this clear to people before they arrive for their appointment.
They added: “There is a ramp available at the Glasgow Assessment Centre – if people can’t use this, arrangements will be made to see them at an alternative location.”