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  1. ITV Report

DWP apologises to man deemed 'fit to work' despite being six stone

Despite looking like he is about to waste away, Stephen Smith was deemed fit to find work and denied vital benefits after a fitness for work assessment by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP).

Shocking images show the 64-year-old man in hospital over Christmas, when his severe health problems left him in such a poor state his weight dropped to six stone and left him fearing for his life.

He was forced to get a pass out from hospital to fight a decision by the DWP, which repeatedly denied him crucial benefit Employment Support Allowance (ESA) and insisted he was fit and capable of finding work.

Stephen was suffering from pneumonia and was taken to hospital which was when the shocking images of his dramatic weight loss awere taken.

He won that appeal after a tribunal judge saw that Mr Smith could barely walk down the street.

After finally agreeing to re-instate his ESA, the DWP has now said he will also receive back-payments for the money he was wrongly denied:

“'We are sorry for the experience Mr Smith has had and we are committed to ensuring that people with health conditions get the support they're entitled to.

“Following the independent tribunal’s ruling, he is now receiving full ESA support. While Mr Smith continued to receive benefits and support during his appeal, we can confirm he will shortly receive all back-payments for ESA due.”

– DWP Spokesperson
Stephen was suffering from pneumonia and was taken to hospital which was when the shocking images of his dramatic weight loss and poor condition were taken.

Mr Smith, from Kensington, Liverpool, has suffered with a number of serious conditions for several years.

His most debilitating illness is Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, an incurable respiratory problem that causes severe breathing issues and gets worse over time. But he also suffers with excruciating osteoarthritis, has an enlarged prostate and uses a colostomy bag.

Despite all of this, he failed a DWP work capability assesment in 2017 - which meant his ESA payments were stopped and he was told to sign on for a £67 a week Jobseeker's Allowance, visit the job centre once a week and prove he was looking for work.

Throughout this period, Stephen was living alone and didn't know where to turn as his health deteriorated.

He said:

"I had no muscles in the back of my leg which meant I couldn't stand up at all - and had to lean or sit down all the time - but they were telling me I was fit for work."

– Stephen Smith
Stephen Smith is now owed £4,000 in back payments

The ruling means Stephen will be put back on to ESA but it is believed he is owed around £4,000 in back payments.

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