Danielle Blake: Degraded And Distressed By Tory War On The Sick And Disabled
Twenty three Labour MPs have so far signed up to this week's bid to have cruel Tory cuts to disability benefits overturned. In PMQ's, Jeremy Corbyn's plea to Theresa May that she reverse her decision, which went against the findings of an independent court, fell on deaf ears.
There are, unsurprisingly, no Tory names on the list. This is the reality of May's war on the vulnerable.
This is real life for a young Scottish girl whose sister contacted The Prole Star - we'll call her Danielle Blake.
Danielle was born with cerebral palsy, a condition that affects her legs badly. She literally can't straighten her legs. She can stand for less than a minute before her legs visibly shake then she must sit back down.
When she does walk (only on good days and only a few metres at a time) she walks on her tiptoes and needs to hold the walls or furniture as she has very little balance. In childhood she used crutches, but as she grew older her legs have become so stiff that she now can't go outside without her wheelchair. Her body aches with pushing the chair and her hands regularly blister. She has a hole in her heart.
Danielle's sister Charley told us: "She was sent for an ESA assessment. She didn't tell us she had this appointment, she went alone as she doesn't like asking for help"
"In the assessment she was asked if she could stand, walk, carry objects from one side of the room to the next etc. She feels she was almost manipulated into making out that she was in better health than she is"
"She felt humiliated standing and walking as part of the assessment as she doesn't like people staring and commenting, as you can imagine"
"Apparently you need to score 15 points to pass the assessment - they awarded her an astonishing zero points"
"I wrote to my MP, whose team couldn't have been any better in helping. They requested a mandatory reconsideration however this needs to be done in a certain amount of time. The DWP claimed they had sent out the forms, however several weeks and two phone calls later... no forms. I got back on to my MP, and a few days later they sent out forms"
"They said they wouldn't be reconsidering the assessment results as they felt she was capable of work and didn't meet the required number of points. They said because she went alone (she's really independent) that this proved she was fit enough to work"
"She is now claiming Job Seekers Allowance and has to attend regular appointments and job interviews. Recently she was sent on an interview to a shop, where I feel she was treated just as badly. The shop didn't have a lift to get to the upstairs floor, which would be necessary if she was an employee. They didn't even let her speak, they just ushered her out and said something about calling her back when they relocated"
"This is degrading. The next step is court unfortunately"
According to the descriptors used for ESA assessments (above) it is clear that Danielle should score the necessary 15 points on the first item alone - and without a doubt with a combination of two or more of the others. And this is only the first section, others follow dealing with standing, sitting and climbing stairs.
The Tory policy of attacking the most vulnerable with cuts and sanctions, whilst giving huge backhanders to the rich and powerful, is making life quite literally hell for thousands like Danielle.
Hardly what can be called 'a society that works for everybody'
Legal action is the next step for Danielle and her family - opposing this continued onslaught of cuts and sanctions should be the next step for the people who represent us in Parliament.
Details of the Early Day Motion, which was brought by a cross party group of MPs and is currently backed by 64, is available here.
If your MP's name isn't on that list of supporters, maybe you should ask them why - or maybe they shouldn't be your MP....