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Triple bypass man declared fit for work: Local MP calls case callous and heartless

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Sheffield Heeley MP Louise Haigh.

A Sheffield resident was declared "fit for work", despite being due for a triple bypass operation this month.

Konrad Zastawny from Meersbrook was given the designation by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), despite being diagnosed with angina and a blocked artery in August last year.

The DWP told Now Then that they have now overturned the decision and increased Mr Zastawny's Universal Credit payments. He was previously awarded £317 a month to live on.

The government needs to change its whole approach towards social security

The department told us that he was not going to be sanctioned at any point, and that he would not have to search for work until he has fully recovered from the operation.

"Konrad's case demonstrates, yet again, the Tories' callous and heartless attitude towards sick and disabled people", said Louise Haigh, MP for his constituency.

Mr Zastawny, aged 55, suffered from an angina attack in February last year. He was referred for a triple bypass operation and declared unfit for work by his GP in October.

Mr Zastawny appealed his case to the DWP with Louise Haigh's support.

She wrote to the Secretary of State to demand that the case be reconsidered but she says that this is not enough.

"The government needs to change its whole approach towards social security. Payment delays and sanctions have forced families relying on Universal Credit into poverty and debt as they're left without any money to pay bills and put food on the table."

The consequences for those declared "fit for work" under the DWP's system have not only been dangerous - they have sometimes been fatal.

We want people to get the support they are entitled to

According to the DWP's own figures, over 2,000 people died between December 2011 and February 2014 after their benefits were withheld due to being declared "fit for work".

As of November 2019, 60,803 people in Sheffield were receiving Universal Credit while waiting times for benefits for sick and disabled people are said to be increasing.

A DWP spokesperson told Now Then: "We want people to get the support they are entitled to and overturned the decision after receiving additional information. Mr Zastawny continued to receive Universal Credit during the review."

Jo Kamal

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Photo by J J Ellison (Wikimedia Commons).

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