‘THE GOVERNMENT doesn’t care about people like me’, says a man with learning difficulties after being forced to find work.

Disabled Darlington man Edward West has been considered unable to work for the entirety of his adult life.

At the age of 44, he must now look for full time work within an hour’s commute after the Department of Work and Pensions unexpectedly declared him fit for employment.

Mr West lives in sheltered accommodation, has significant learning difficulties and needs the support of a carer several times a week.

The vulnerable man struggles to cope in unfamiliar situations, has mental health issues and says anxiety and distress would make a daily commute, long hours and interactions with colleagues impossible.

However, after attending his first Work Capability Assessment without professional support, he failed to score enough points to be eligible for ESA (Employment and Support Allowance).

Following a face to face assessment, a report was issued saying Mr West would need somebody with him to travel to unfamiliar places but was otherwise fit to work.

The report cited his ability to get to his GP, time spent socialising with his brother and a perceived lack of anxiety at the assessment.

It is believed the DWP did not contact Mr West’s GP or consider medical records before making a decision, expecting him to have contacted them for evidence to support his claim.

Mr West now claims Job Seekers’ Allowance and must look for full-time work within a 60 minute commute or risk losing benefits.

An emotional Mr West said new “box-ticking”, point-scoring disability assessments mean people like him are falling through the gaps.

He said: “They didn’t speak to my GP or social worker and didn’t listen to me.

“The system should be scrapped, they didn’t look at my records or my past, just judged me on what I said that day.

“I cried when I found out and I’m really frightened, I don’t know what to do.

“They asked me silly questions about washing and dressing myself, but they’re not the things I have problems with – they don’t have anything to do with my condition.

“I don’t think the government cares about people like me.

“I will struggle to find a job the way the country is and even if I do my best at an interview, I think they will still choose someone else.”

A spokesman for the DWP said Mr West can ask for his claim to be reconsidered, adding: “The decision on whether someone is well enough to work is taken following a thorough independent assessment, and after considering any evidence from the claimant’s GP or medical expert.”