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Amputee forced to undergo 'degrading' fitness for work medical

The Bolton News: Mark Evans with Denise Lonsdale Mark Evans with Denise Lonsdale

AN amputee who struggles to speak and cannot walk has been forced to undergo another “degrading” government medical to see if he is fit to work.

Mark Evans, aged 50, is forced to rely on a mobility scooter and has claimed some form of incapacity benefit since 1993, when he suffered brain damage because of a tumour.

His benefits were slashed in March when he was deemed fit to work following a Department for Work and Pensions capability assessment.

Mr Evans’ basic level of Employment Support Allowance (ESA) was cut from £760 to £320 a month, with £100 of his monthly earnings spent on his vital scooter.

He lost an appeal — held 127 miles away in Workington. He was unable to travel there because of his disabilities and the original decision was upheld in his absence.

Helped by the Unemployed Advice Centre in Deansgate, Mr Evans has since been forced to reapply for his original benefits, which have still not been reinstated in full.

After the lengthy application process, Mr Evans’ case has now been processed, but the amputee had to attend another fitness test at Lever Chambers Health Centre in Ashburner Street.

Denise Lonsdale, the volunteer manager of the Unemployed Advice Centre in Deansgate, where Mr Evans sought help after his benefits were cut earlier this year, said: “It’s a disgrace.

“Anyone who looked at Mark would agree that he is not fit for work.

“These medicals are totally humiliating and degrading and Mark has to lift his arms up and talk for a certain amount of time.

“He is very embarrassed and feels like his situation is being constantly belittled.”

Mr Evans had to have his leg amputated in 2004 after suffering deep vein thrombosis, compounding the brain injuries for which he had already claimed benefits for 11 years.


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Ms Lonsdale added: “Because his money has been stopped he’s got no money for gas and he needs to keep warm because of his amputation.”

At one stage, Mr Evans was given a crisis loan of £142 to pay his rent and bills, which he has to repay at £8 a week. A DWP spokesman said it was normal practice for people making a fresh application for ESA to undergo a medical, regardless of their specific conditions.

He added that existing claimants usually have capability checks every 12 months to ensure they are still unfit to work.

When Mr Evans was denied benefits for the first time in March, a DWP spokesman defended changes to the benefits system, arguing that too many people were previously condemned to a life out of work.

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