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A single father of two with a bone and muscle wasting disease he contracted after breaking his ankle at work has had his Employment Support Allowance stopped despite the fact he may have to have his leg amputated. Darren Gilligan from Shipley had to undergo a government-ordered test to see if he was fit to work when the government scrapped the oId Incapacity Benefit for those too sick to work and introduced the new stricter system. This is despite his diagnosis complex regional pain syndrome or CRPS, which restricts his mobility and quality of life and for which he takes strong nerve-stabilising medication.

Dave Younger, Leeds City Socialist Party

After a 25-minute assessment Mr Gilligan, who is in constant pain due to the condition, was told he was fit to work and would not be eligible for the new Employment Support Allowance. He has, however, also been told by Jobcentreplus that he doesn’t qualify for Jobseekers’ Allowance because he is unfit to work. So which one is it?

According to Mr Gilligan’s GP his symptoms of chronic pain are “severe and prevent him from working”. Mr Gilligan feels, however, that it will only be if and when he has his leg amputated – he has to wait for the operation first – that his condition will be taken seriously enough. He has stated that he would be willing to work once the pain is gone – that he would “clean toilets, stack shelves, anything” to provide for his daughters, but at the moment he is in limbo not being able to work or to claim benefits.

The Department of Work and Pensions declined to comment on the case but issued a typically vague and generic statement to the effect that decisions are made on a case by cases basis and those disagreeing with decisions on benefits have the right of appeal.

It is clear this government is attempting to squeeze as much as they can out of working people and those who cannot work, depriving people on low incomes of any kind of dignity or quality of life, in order to safeguard the profits of the rich elite. We should do everything we can to thwart this government’s savage and unnecessary spending cuts, providing a socialist programme as the only alternative to meet the needs of the vast majority in our society.

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