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‘I can’t live’ – disabled man’s benefits misery

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: October 18, 2013

Anthony Tomlinson

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HE has a bone condition that leaves him vulnerable to breaks, and severe arthritis which limits the use of his hands and requires him to walk on crutches – but despite all this, Anthony Tomlinson has been deemed fit to work.

The 56-year-old, who lives alone in Horninglow, said he has been left struggling to keep his head above water after failing to meet the criteria to receive Employment Support Allowance (ESA).

The system, which replaced incapacity benefit, has seen Mr Tomlinson’s fortnightly income slashed by £50.

To be deemed worthy of ESA, claimants must score 15 points when asked various questions about their health and what they can and can’t do.

Despite Mr Tomlinson’s various ailments, he only scored six points.

Having been denied the benefit, he said he was struggling to pay his bills.

And concerns have been raised that there may be many more vulnerable people in a similar position.

He said: “I can’t live, I can’t pay my bills. I sleep on the sofa and I don’t have a TV. I don’t drink or smoke.

“It’s not that I don’t want to work. I worked since I was 17, and I would love to go back to work, but who is going to employ me like this?

“I have to wear special boots and have crutches to help take the pressure off my left leg because of my bone condition, but I can’t use them as they put pressure on my shoulder, which is fractured.”

Sarah Brown, from the South Derbyshire Citizens Advice Bureau, admitted cases like Mr Tomlinson’s were becoming all too common.

She said: “We get it all the time. Probably 50 per cent of the people we see are people who have been denied ESA. From our experience, it has been very difficult for clients and the feedback hasn’t been massively positive.

“It can be very daunting experience for people to go to hospital and be asked loads of questions.

“Often they don’t know what they are going to be asked.”

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