Good news for our client Julius Holgate! On Wednesday 22nd February 2017, Julius (pictured right with his HCLC caseworker Marcin Brajta) received a letter from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) informing him that it would no longer refuse to pay him Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).
Back in January, Julius – a double amputee with no legs – approached HCLC for help after the DWP assessed him as ‘fit for work’ and awarded him 0 points in a medical assessment. At the time, the DWP stated that because Julius’ arms were in working order, he could use them to “climb” stairs and therefore had “mobility”.
As soon as HCLC took on Julius’ case, things started to change. We forced the DWP to consider the case again and demanded that it reverse its outrageous decision.
We are happy to report that the DWP backed down and Julius will now be entitled to the support component of ESA, which means that he will no longer be forced to conduct distressing and fruitless searches for work or attend the job centre.
Reacting to the news, Julius Holgate said: “I’m glad the DWP has seen sense. I’m just still sorry that other people will have to go through what I have been through though. I wish that the DWP would be more careful when they’re assessing people. This all caused me a lot of stress and anxiety. When they stopped my ESA and I had no money, I fell into debt and had to pawn my jewellery to survive. Without Hackney Community Law Centre, a lot of people would go under. I am grateful for the help that HCLC gave me“.
Julius’ HCLC caseworker Marcin Brajta said: “I’m pleased that there was a successful resolution to Julius’ case. After HCLC got involved, things moved very quickly for him. We didn’t need to court. Julius can now get on with his life without worrying about having to attend the job centre, which was adversely affecting his health. Hackney Community Law Centre is unfortunately seeing more cases like this because of government cuts that mean there are less DWP assessors to conduct medical assessments. The Assessors that remain are not given enough time to assess applicants properly.”
HCLC Chair Ian Rathbone said: “What great news this is for Julius and for justice but what a shocking thing to happen to someone who has already suffered such a terrible loss only months earlier. Well done to our excellent team, and Marcin in particular, for being persistent in the face of Government indifference and careless checking. And if it was not for the Law Centre, where would Julius be now? There are many more like Julius who are suffering as a result of callous and cold-hearted benefit cuts. An apology to Julius from the DWP – squeezed out after they were caught out – is not enough. We want to see changes of direction here, of sympathy and care for people in their time of need.“