How many more, George? Ruth Anim and Liam Barker - different disabilities, very similar situations

Ruth Anim was fortunate to have a high-profile parent fighting her cause as Atos removed her benefits, but what about others whose voices won't be heard?

Share
Related Topics

Just over two weeks ago, I heard and wrote about the case of Liam Barker. Eighteen years old, paralysed since birth, he breathes through a ventilator.

His parents had just received a letter informing them that in order to receive Employment Support Allowance, he might have to prove he is unable to work by attending a Work Capability Assessment.

Just over two weeks ago, I first started wondering how many more Liam Barkers there would be.

I am sad to say that on Thursday, I heard of a case very similar to that of Liam Barker.

Ruth Anim, 27, has epilepsy, heart problems, curvature of the spine, severe autism and a mental age of 10. She has no sense of danger.

Ruth recently attended a WCA. She was found fit for work and told to prepare to find a job within a year.

Like Liam Barker, Ruth Anim has a loving mother, who immediately appealed the findings of her WCA. Ruth Anim is lucky. Unlike Michelle Barker, Cecelia Anim is the deputy president of the Royal College of Nursing.

This meant that over the last few days, Ruth Anim’s case has received greater media coverage than Liam Barker’s case did. The Guardian and BBC websites both covered the story in articles. Friday’s Guardian letters section was dedicated to the issue of disability benefits, hooked on her story. The same day, BBC London News ran a TV piece about her.

On Friday, ATOS apologised to the Anims for the ‘error’ they made in finding Ruth fit for work. It is to be hoped that the Barkers have received a similar apology for the distress caused to them by the DWP’s recent letter. But there is a strong possibility that the Anims would not have received an apology if Cecelia Anim did not have a high profile.

Like the Barkers, Cecelia Anim realises that other disabled people may not have the support her daughter has. She wants to challenge the current system.

Cecelia and Ruth Anim may have won their appeal for now, but Ruth will be assessed again in two years.

Ruth Anim and Liam Barker may have very different disabilities, but sadly, benefit assessments have placed them in very similar situations. Both are severely disabled. It is clear to anyone who hears their stories that neither will be any more fit for work in two years’ time than they are today.

That’s why assessing either of them again will be a greater waste of government time and taxpayers’ money than simply providing both of them with the benefits they are so clearly genuinely entitled to. This is without taking into consideration the emotional stress that will be caused to them and their parent carers by the process, first of attending assessments and later of appealing against wrong decisions.

When I was trying hard to publicise the case of Liam Barker online two weeks ago, someone suggested that a database should be kept of people who are too severely disabled to ever be fit for work. This is an idea that should be given serious consideration by all relevant government departments.

Because the next severely disabled person who is threatened with, or sent to, a WCA may not have supportive, high profile parents. They may not have the ability to appeal if they are wrongly found fit for work. They may not be able to do anything but suffer in silence.

Yesterday at the Conservative Party Conference, the Chancellor, George Osborne, revealed plans to cut another £10 billion from the welfare budget. He did not specifically mention disability benefits in this speech.

Two weeks ago I hoped that we would never have to hear of another Liam Barker. And weeks later, George Osborne’s plans have again filled me with fear, and doubt.

If you or someone you know is in a similar position, please email indyvoices@independent.co.uk

React Now

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Service Technician

£30000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitment Company...

Energy Sales Co-ordinator

£20000 - £25000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Energy Sales Consultant

£25000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitment Company...

Bid Writer – Energy Markets

£35000 Per Annum DOE: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitment Com...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Public sector workers march through Newcastle city centre as they take part in the one-day walkout as part of bitter disputes over pay, pensions, jobs and spending cuts  

The Government’s attitude to the civil service is breathtaking hypocrisy

Chris Blackhurst
Brazil fans are devastated while watching the first half on Copacabana Beach during the 2014 FIFA World Cup semi-final match between Brazil and Germany on July 8, 2014 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The winner advances to the final at the famed Maracana stadium.  

The response to Brazil's defeat has been a surreal exploration of loss and tragedy

Timothy Kennett
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

Hollywood targets Asian audiences

The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial
Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app - and my mum keeps trying to hook me up!'

Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app'

Five years on from its launch and Grindr is the world's most popular dating app for gay men. Its founder Joel Simkhai answers his critics, describes his isolation as a child
Autocorrect has its uses but it can go rogue with embarrassing results - so is it time to ditch it?

Is it time to ditch autocorrect?

Matthew J X Malady persuaded friends to message manually instead, but failed to factor in fat fingers and drunk texting
10 best girls' summer dresses

Frock chick: 10 best girls' summer dresses

Get them ready for the holidays with these cool and pretty options 
Westminster’s dark secret: Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together

Westminster’s dark secret

Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Dulce et decorum est - a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Dulce et decorum est: a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality
Google tells popular music website to censor album cover art in 'sexually explicit content' ban

Naked censorship?

The strange case of Google, the music website and the nudity take-down requests
Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

As England take on India at Trent Bridge, here is our pick of the high-performing bats to help you up your run-count this summer 
Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014 comment: David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

Captain appears to give up as shocking 7-1 World Cup semi-final defeat threatens ramifications in Brazil