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Granada investigates the benefits system

In a series of special reports, Granada Reports looks at the current benefits system.

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'Degrading and cruel' - claimants view of the benefit system

James Harrison who died after being passed 'fit for work'. Credit: ITV Granada

James Harrison died after Job Centre staff wrote to his GP telling them not to issue him any more sick notes.

He was a Community Centre manager in Liverpool for 35 years but his health deteriorated when he was made redundant.

He was declared 'fit for work' after a Work Capability Assessment, something his doctor disagreed with, even though he had a serious lung condition and depression.

He died of heart failure still waiting for a second medical assessment to prove he was ill. His daughter Abbie said he was forced to use a food bank and was made to feel 'degraded and ashamed'.

The film director Ken Loach has made a film to show the harsh reality of applying for benefits in his film "I Daniel Blake'.

In April, the government plan to cut the new Employment Support Allowance (ESA) for ill or disabled claimants who are judged to be able to work in the future.

The allowance will be reduced by a third to £73.10 per week, the same as Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) and is designed to give an incentive to disabled people to find work.

Ken Loach says the most vulnerable are being targeted by the new 'benefit reform'.

His film "I Daniel Blake' follows two benefits claimants plunged into poverty, its distributor is Entertainment One UK.

This week on Granada Reports we will be taking to claimants who've had their benefits cut, the charities trying to support them and those forced to go to court to prove they are ill.

Mark Atkinson, chief executive of Scope said "We know that reducing disabled people's incomes won't help halve the disability employment gap. It will just make life harder"

The Department of Work and Pensions says, "Our welfare reforms are increasing the support and incentives for people who move into work, while keeping an important safety net in place for those who need it."

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