One Wigan woman who has been repeatedly sanctioned has told of her disbelief at how the country allows benefits claimants to be treated.
The lady, who asked not to be named, has endured an ordeal lasting around five years at the hands of the DWP after she was declared fit for work despite suffering a long-term illness.
She says that assessors employed by the Government repeatedly over-ruled the expert opinions of doctors and other medics and this left her trying to survive for a number of weeks at a time without receiving any money while she appealed against the decisions.
She was left reliant on foodbanks and the generous help of friends and family members to survive for up to six weeks on two separate occasions while waiting for hearings.
She said: “It’s just been years of hounding and harassment.
“They found me fit for work, then the bedroom tax came in and finally I was put on Employment Support Allowance (ESA).
“I was told I had to spend 16 hours a week job-searching, even when I had part-time work and one work coach told me that I shouldn’t put down any of my medical conditions or health issues.
“I can’t understand how these people can over-rule GPs, consultants and judges.
“I am not going to any more appointments with someone who is not a qualified doctor and I flatly refuse to apply for more jobs that I am not fit enough to do.
“I also had no money when Employment Support Allowance switched over to Universal Credit because of a delay in the system.
“I got the money I was entitled to back, but that was two or three months down the line and the damage was already done.
“I really didn’t want to have to go to a foodbank but my local councillor insisted.
“I had friends and families bringing me food, neighbours as well.
“It was really embarrassing.
“I’ve kept all the threatening letters I’ve received from the DWP and they’ve even sent me text messages as well.
“There are too many of them to count.
“At the assessments if you are breathing they say you are fit for work.
“I just question the legality of it. I can’t believe nobody has been in court over this harassment.”