Over 40% of Pembrokeshire incapacity benefit claimants are 'fit for work'
5:40pm Friday 27th April 2012 in News
More than 40% of all Pembrokeshire incapacity benefit claimants reassessed by the Government have been declared fit to work.
Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) figures show that 43% of the 320 people reassessed between October 2010 and July 2011 in Pembrokeshire were considered fit to work and not entitled to incapacity benefit.
Of the 320 reassessments completed in Pembrokeshire 140 people were found fit for work with 180 entitled to some sort of incapacity benefit.
Of those 80 were assigned to a work related activity group with the intention of being capable for work in the future. A further 100 were judged not capable of any work.
There are also 30 cases still in progress in Pembrokeshire with 10 closed before assessment.
Among those who have suddenly found themselves cut off from benefits is a 57-year-old woman from Milford Haven.
The woman, who asked not to be named, told the Western Telegraph how her reassessment last month has left her without any form of benefit and relying on charity as she reapplies for Job Seeker's Allowance.
"It's been terrible," said the woman who has kidney problems, mobility issues, high blood pressure and arthritis and has not been able to work since leaving her last job at Tesco two years ago due to her ill health.
"I had a medical on March 21st and they failed me on that and stopped my benefits on March 26th. I had no money then so I went for Job Seeker's Allowance and the Job Centre said 'you're not fit for work'.
"I've no money and bills are due, it's just one thing after another. It's a constant worry, it's been awful really.
The woman sought help from PATCH, a charity supporting those facing hardship in the county, Tracy Olin from PATCH said that there had been a noticeable increase in people seeking help following problems with incapacity and other types of benefits.
"We've had quite a lot of people that have been off sick and then been okayed by the DWP doctor and then there is a huge wait before the benefits are sorted - it could take six weeks and we've been feeding people for those six weeks.
"We have seen an increase through the changes to benefits. It's really quite scary."
The woman added: "PATCH have been very helpful with the food hampers and my family but there is rent, gas and electric and there is just me; people with children, how they manage, I just don't know." She will now appeal the decision to class her fit to work, claiming her low score should have clearly demonstrated she should receive some sort of incapacity benefit.
Employment Minister Chris Grayling said the figures showed that too many people have been left "languishing on benefits for too long."
"We are providing support to those who need it, but it is right that those who are able to work should do so."
Advice on the appeal process and other benefit issues is available from the Citizens Advice Bureau in Haverfordwest. Visit www.citizensadvice.org.uk or call 0844 4772020.
To support PATCH's work or find out more visit www.patchcharity.org.uk or call 07775571431.
• Have you been hit by the reassessment process? Leave your comments below or email firstname.lastname@example.org