DWP states its case for JSA v ESA

Joanne Price from Bo'ness has a dislocated elbow and is in dispute over her benefits claim.
Joanne Price from Bo'ness has a dislocated elbow and is in dispute over her benefits claim.

Joanne Price is an angry woman as she faces having her benefits cut if she doesn’t find work...despite being disabled.

Joanne, (42), from Stewart Avenue in Bo’ness, suffered a severely dislocated elbow in April which failed to heal properly, despite having been in a plaster cast.

She is now likely to require an operation to regain full function.

She had been claiming Employment Support Allowance (ESA) from her local Jobcentre in Grangemouth who sent her for a medical examination at the beginning of the month.

This was carried out by ATOS Healthcare in Stirling.

Joanne said: “It was all a bit of a joke really.

“There was no doctor present, only a nurse, and despite being able to show that my left arm is unable to straighten and that I have no function in it, she didn’t seem to care.

“They had me doing daft things like lifting a pencil saying I could look for work in admin – what she didn’t take into account was the fact that I’m left handed and wouldn’t be able to write.”

On Wednesday last week, Joanne received a telephone call from the Department for Work and Pensions advising her that her entitlement to ESA was to end because the department’s advisers felt she was fit enough to work, and, she had not received sufficient points during the medical.

Joanne was told to claim Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) instead. However, this means that she has to actively seek work, despite her GP signing her off.

Joanne told us: “If I don’t look for work they’ll take my JSA benefit away too and I’ll be left with nothing to live on.

“It’s crazy. How can I look for work if my own doctor has signed me off as being unfit and I can’t even straighten my elbow?

“I can’t write, drive, comb my hair or tie my shoelaces, yet with the DWP and the Jobcentre you just appear to be a number – nobody cares!”

A spokesman for the Department said: “A decision on whether someone is well enough to work is taken following a thorough assessment and after consideration of all the supporting evidence from the claimant’s GP or medical specialist. We think it’s right to see what work people can do with support, rather than write them off on sickness benefits as sometimes happened. “Anyone who disagrees with a decision can ask the Department to look at the case again as part of our new streamlined mandatory reconsideration process.”