An epileptic man with brain damage, his carer and neighbour have reacted with fury after the disabled man was deemed ‘fit for work’ by an “overzealous government” and vowed to “rip them to bits”.
Geoffrey Wilkins, 53, from Chelmsford suffers from epilepsy, brain damage, heart disease and depression. Yet despite his obvious medical conditions Mr Wilkins was found ‘fit for work’ by Atos and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in January 2014.
Mr Wilkins, who takes sixteen different medications to help control his poor health, said “it felt like someone has smashed me over the head with a sledgehammer” when his monthly benefits income was slashed from £700 a month to less than £300.
Carer Peter said his brother was forced to live on £293 a month in Disability Living Allowance payments, while waiting for £143 in temporary Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) payments.
His ESA was only paid into Geoffrey’s bank account after two days of calls to the DWP and is a temporary payment while he awaits the outcome of an appeal.
New changes to the benefit appeals system now means that ESA claimants wrongly found ‘fit for work’ will have to claim Jobseeker’s Allowance while contesting an ESA decision, even if they are too unwell to work.
Speaking to the Essex Chronicle, Peter said: “We want to take on the government and rip them to bits for what they’re doing to Geoff and thousands of others.
“It’s quite a lot of money we’ve lost. At the end of the day we are lucky if we have a meal.”
Peter said that his brother’s neighbour Christine “had to lend us £10 for food the other day.
“He is not fit to work. What employer will deem my brother fit to work?
“If he worked now as a groundsman and parked up his tractor, walked away, he would forget where it was.”
Geoffrey, who used to work as a groundsman and labourer, was told by FIVE doctors that he “will never work again”, after contracting carbon dioxide poisoning in 1995.
Dr Shazhad Ahmed said: “He would be a risk to himself and his colleagues with the medical condition he has.”
Neurologist Dr Peter Bradbury said that his patient “is yet another victim of the inability of Atos to cope with more sophisticated neurological problems”.
Mr Wilkins neighbour Christine said: “We will fight it to the very end.
“The man is clearly being denied his just dos by an over-zealous government who think they can make laws to suit themselves.
“As far as I am concerned that man needs nurturing, not punishing.”
The news comes after another man with epilepsy committed suicide after having his sickness benefit removed.
The government is currently look for a replacement for Atos after the private firm withdrew from £500 million a year contract, in the face of mounting criticism.
It is expected that the new contract will be delivered by more than one private contractor. Atos will continue to deliver the Work Capability Assessment up until early 2015, when a new provider(s) is announced.