Woman with walking difficulty told: ‘Get a job’

Christine Clapson at her home in Gosport.''Picture: Sarah Standing (123569-2047)
Christine Clapson at her home in Gosport.''Picture: Sarah Standing (123569-2047)
Picture: Pierandrea Guarnieri

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LONG-SUFFERING Christine Clapson stopped working 20 years ago because of her hip problems but has now had her benefits stopped and told to find a job.

Miss Clapson, 58, of Cheriton Road, Gosport, was told to stop working as a steward at HMS Sultan by her boss back in 1991, when her osteoporosis meant she began to find walking difficult.

Since then she has had both hips replaced, and uses two sticks to walk and claims long-term incapacity benefit.

But last month she received a letter from Jobcentre Plus at the Department for Work and Pensions stopping her Employment Support Allowance, which replaced incapacity benefits in 2008, and telling her to sign on at the Jobcentre.

The letter follows a 40-minute assessment of Miss Clapson, who also suffers from Turner Syndrome and tinnitus, at Wingfield House in Portsmouth on September 20.

She said: ‘I worked when I could; I worked hard all my life before I couldn’t work any longer. I can’t go very far because I walk with a stick after my two hip replacements.

‘I’ve had to have modifications to update my hip replacements.

‘I’ve got to go and see the staff to get information on things and try and get on to a work programme. I’m not well enough to do that because I’ve got tinnitus and I can’t concentrate because of the tinnitus.

‘I don’t feel like I could cope with it, I’ve got a lot of abdominal pain as well as I’ve had a vulvectomy.’

Miss Clapson has restricted mobility following her operations and has had a grab rail and step installed outside her home by social services.

She said she is not fit to return to work and will now appeal the decision by the DWP. I’m still quite ill at the moment, I’ve got to call up the doctors because I’ve got a lot of abdominal pain.

‘It’s stopping me from looking for work and doing anything really.

‘It’s all depressing me now because I I’m getting really worried about it.’

A spokesman for DWP said the incapacity benefit reforms were necessary.

‘Employment Support Allowance assesses someone’s capacity for work and looks at what a person can do, not what they can’t,’ he said.

‘For those who need additional help getting into work, the Work Programme will provide tailored support.’