He wrote to Minister for Disabled People Justin Tomlinson citing the case highlighted in The National over the past few months of severely disabled Stuart Chester and urged him to stop these assessments for people like him whose health condition will never improve.
However, in a letter of reply Neil was told that people like Stuart “cannot be exempted from attending periodic work capability assessments” and it was stated there was support in place to “ease the whole process”.
Neil said: “I think it is wrong and cruel to put people with life-long conditions like Stuart’s and his family through the stress and anxiety of these assessments when it is quite clear his condition will never improve and he will never be fit for work.
“These Tory ministers haven’t a clue about how normal people live. I think it is outrageous that they are not even willing to consider exempting severely disabled people from these totally unnecessary assessments.”
Neil met with 25-year-old Stuart, who has Down’s syndrome and autism, cannot speak, read, wash or clothe himself, and his mum Deborah and sister Amanda in September for the first time to discuss ways of working together to save other vulnerable people suffering under the new welfare system.
Stuart, from Glasgow, is just one of hundreds of severely disabled people ordered to prove he is unfit for work even though he needs round-the-clock care from his mum.
He was sent a 20-page work capability assessment form to fill in that will investigate his fitness for work and whether he deserves his Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) benefits.
Deborah, 51, has filled in the form for him and heard word back from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) that his benefits won’t change but Stuart will still have to face regular assessments to see if he is fit for work, which she insists is “ludicrous”.
She said: “All we can do is continue to fight against the injustice and shout about it from the rooftops until someone eventually listens. But the Tories don’t care if people die as a result of their benefit cuts. They just want to save money.
“We have all got to stand together and say enough is enough, right now before more disabled people die because of it. I cannot understand how they are getting away with killing people. It is genocide.”
Her daughter Amanda, 29, set up a Facebook page in Stuart’s name and has received amazing support from thousands of people all over the world.
Independent research released this week showed “hard evidence” of the link between work assessments and mental ill-health.
The SNP’s Fair Work and Employment spokesman, Neil Gray, said the Tories “can no longer hide” from the link between work capability assessments and mental ill-health as more and more evidence comes to light.
It follows comments made this week by the family of Angela Smith, who took her own life in September, about their anger at the Tory government and their belief that Angela’s fears of being reassessed led to her death.
Angela’s father Donald Smith said she was “a victim of this government’s repressive measures against disabled people”.
The findings of the investigation are the latest in a series of revelations about the devastating impact these assessments.
Gray, who is the MP for Airdrie and Shotts, said: “Sadly, we have heard of many cases similar to that of Angela and of concerns being raised by doctors and those working for front-line organisations but these just seem to fall on the deaf ears of the Tories.
“This week a study from Oxford and Liverpool universities linked 590 suicides to Work Capability Assessments which proves just how devastating these interviews and the threat of vital benefits being sanctioned are for individuals.
“The Tories can no longer hide behind excuses and pretend that there is no evidence of a link between these cruel and degrading tests and mental ill-health, increased use of anti-depressants and suicide.”