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

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...

Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Day In a Page

Read Next
File: David Cameron offers a toast during a State Dinner in his honour March 14, 2012  

Vote Tory and you’re voting for the rich to get richer and the poor to get poorer

Mark Steel
 

If I were Prime Minister: I'd end the war on drugs

Patrick Hennessey
General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'