A 58-year-old disabled man says he has been ordered by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to provide proof of his disability, despite being born without arms or legs, it has been reported.
Kevin Donnellon is among 2,000 UK babies who were born with severe deformaties and other disabilities caused by the morning sickness drug Thalidomide. Only one in four of these people have survived into their 50’s.
Despite this, Kevin was asked to complete a questionnaire in order to receive the main benefit for chronically sick and disabled people, Personal Independence Payment (PIP) – which is replacing Disability Living Allowance for all working-age adults in the UK.
Kevin was shocked to have been sent the 24-page form for PIP, and has lashed out against the UK Government’s cruel welfare reforms for unfairly targeting disabled people.
“It’s not like my arms and legs have grown”, he said.
The father of two says his life has been full of struggles, but despite this Kevin managed to acheive a degree in social sciences and was able to hold down a job until his deterioating health forced him to quit around 15 years ago.
He said: “I’ve got severe backache from the artificial legs I used to wear – they weren’t the fantastic prosthetics you get these days. I’ve also got type 2 diabetes.”
A DWP spokesperson told the Daily Mirror: “Mr Donnellon has been awarded ESA (Employment Support Allowance) indefinitely following a recent reassessment, and the highest rate of PIP with a light-touch review in 10 years.”
But Kevin says that many of his disabled friends “are terrified” that “they’re going to have benefits taken away”, and describes the current system as “vindictive” and “intrusive”.
“Twice in the last year I’ve had to fill in questionnaires”, he said.
“I was born like this – you’d think my details would be on the system. I’ve worked in the past, but I can’t do anything full-time.”
“All these cuts are simply cruel”, he added.
Disabled people ‘should be paid less’ – Tory candidate
A Conservative candidate has come under pressure to step down after suggesting that disabled people should be paid less than non-disabled people.
Sally-Ann Hart, the Tory candidate for Hastings and Rye, what met with jeers and shouts of “shameful” after citing an article from right-wing Spectator which reportedly backed her point of view.
She further angered the crowd gathered at a local hustings events by suggesting that people with learning difficulties should also be paid less because they “don’t understand money”.
A person in the crowd can be heard shouting “I’m autistic, and I want to get paid for the work I do”, while others shout “shameful” and “how dare you!”
Her comments were caught on video and shared with The Independent, in which she attempts to defend her position.
She said: “It’s about having a therapeutic exemption and the article was in support of employing people with learning disabilities, that is what it was.”
Labour’s Shadow Disabilities Minister Marsha de Cordova said Sally-Ann Hart’s comments demonstrate the Tories’ “contempt” for disabled people.
“If Boris Johnson wins next Thursday, the hostile environment the Conservatives have created for disabled people will push even more into poverty”, she said.
“Disabled people are already shut out of employment and have been disproportionately harmed by the Conservative and Lib Dems’ cuts.
“Now, these comments further expose the contempt the Conservatives feel for disabled people, which underlie their policies towards us.”
She added: “These aren’t comments Sally-Ann Hart made years ago. She made them during this election. Anyone with such hateful views has no place in Parliament.“