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Sturgeon writes personal letter to disabled man’s family

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​First minister says she is saddened at plight of severely disabled boy

Nicola Sturgeon has written to the family of a disabled man saying she is “saddened” at the fact he has to prove he is unfit for work.

Deborah Chester’s son Stuart has Down’s syndrome and autism but has been forced to prove he can’t work by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

He needs round the clock care but was still sent a 20-page work capability assessment form to prove his eligibility for benefits.

Yet 25-year-old Stuart from Glasgow can’t speak, feed or clothe himself.

His plight was picked up by the national press after his mother expressed her frustration at the process, saying it was humiliating and unnecessary.

The first minister said she was saddened to read of Stuart’s treatment by the DWP but wasn’t surprised.

The support we have had has been phenomenal from people all over the world - Deborah Chester

"The Scottish Government is concerned about many aspects of the UK government’s welfare reforms, including the treatment of disabled people,” she wrote.

“We continue to press the UK government to make improvements and to ensure safeguards are in place for those who need them.

"You may be aware that, as a result of the Smith Commission process, disability benefits will eventually be devolved to the Scottish Parliament.

“We will give careful consideration as to how best to ensure that our new powers are tailored to the needs of the people of Scotland and will ensure that individuals, communities and organisations have their say on this.

“We are very clear that principles of dignity and respect must be central to the development of disability benefit policies in Scotland.”

Deborah said: “It was really nice of Nicola to send us that letter and it meant a lot.

“The support we have had has been phenomenal from people all over the world.

“Having these high-profile politicians on our side has helped a lot and hopefully together we can prevent other vulnerable people being targeted.”

A DWP spokeswoman said: “We regularly review people’s conditions to ensure that they are not simply written off and condemned to a life on benefits.”

 

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