A young man who cannot walk or talk and is bound to a wheelchair has been ordered by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to prove he is disabled and unable to work.
Scott Harrison, 22, has been left to live off less than £40 a week in state benefits after his mum Anya was told he was no longer eligible for Child Benefit and has to start looking for work.
Mirror Online reports that Scott was previously entitled to Child Benefit because of being in full-time education, and has been told that he’s uneligible for other top-ups apart from Personal Independence Payments (PIP).
The 22-year-old now attends Sense College in Cambridge, a specialist college for blind-deaf students, and is currently being supported by his mother who receives just £64 a week in Carer’s Allowance – £50 of which goes directly to Papworth Hospital to pay for adapted accommodation to suit his special needs.
His PIP payments are used to pay his medical costs, while the families only other source of income, in the form of Income Support, is a meagre £41 per fortnight.
They now face the prospect of their Gas and Electricy being cut off, whilst also owing £900 in unpaid water bills, and are also fearful of losing their home.
Anya said: “It’s been a nightmare trying to get [Scott] signed up for Universal Credit – they weren’t acknowledging my emails asking for help, and when I called, they kept asking to speak to Scott, despite me repeatedly pointing out that he was non-verbal.
“When we were at the job centre, the staff were confused why he was being sent there.
“It’s terrible having to take him into public spaces for this reason; transport and noisy places upset him, and cause him to self harm.
“He has to have a restraint in place at all times.
“Our bills run high at home as my 22-year-old son has a colostomy bag and needs the heating on more due to feeling cold, while our water bill is needed due to Scott frequently soiling himself, and we need to wash him and his clothes multiple times a day.
“The housing association have been seeking a possession order, and I barely have enough money to feed myself on top of my sons.
“What’s going to happen to them if something happens to me?
“I don’t want to get in more debt, I just need the help to cover these costs. I don’t want to have any more sleepless nights worrying about whether we’ll still have a roof over our heads in a few weeks.”
“I feel discriminated against”, she added.
“I’ve spent the past 20 years just fighting to get the basic stuff, and it never ends. I have to apply for loans just to afford food.”
A DWP spokesperson said: “The only reason Scott was invited to a job interview was because his application form had a box ticked saying that he was available to work, despite his health condition, something which we have clarified he doesn’t need to do.
“There have been no delays to his PIP payments.
“Anya has also started completing a form to apply for Universal Credit, but hasn’t completed it fully.
“She already receives income support, so needs to make the decision as to whether she wants to make the switch to Universal Credit.”