DWP has halted Mr Stave’s ESA benefits
Mark Staves, 58, says his life was “destroyed” when he landed awkwardly after jumping off a gate more than 20 years ago, which he says left him with crippling back pain and struggling to walk, and forced him to quit his job as a builder and live off benefits.
But Mr Staves, of Beverley Road, says the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) “don’t believe” he is unable to work and have stopped his Employment and Support Allowance.
A DWP spokesman said they were reviewing his case, and ESA decisions are made after consideration of evidence provided by the claimant and medical experts.
“Even though my back condition makes it absolutely impossible for me to work, the DWP have stopped my ESA as they say I can earn my own living,” said Mr Staves.
“I want to work, and was a builder for 17 years before I had my accident, but I can’t physically bear to work, but now the DWP have stopped my money as they don’t believe me.
“I feel depressed, anxious and suicidal and the only thing that keeps me going and from taking my life is my kids and grandkids.”
Mr Staves says it took 16 years for him to be diagnosed with long-standing chronic S1 radiculopathy – a disorder of the spinal nerve root in the lower back.
He said he was told in 2014 by independent doctors an operation in the 1990s, shortly after the accident in 1998, could have saved him years of severe pain, but now there is nothing experts can do to help.
“All those years ago when I had my accident in 1998 and did my back in, I just wish that I’d climbed down from the fence and not jumped off and knackered myself since,” said Mr Staves.
“When I first hurt myself I didn’t get the correct treatment as nobody believed the pain I was in, and now even though they’ve acknowledged I’ve got chronic S1 radiculopathy, there’s nothing doctors can do to put me out of my misery.
“The whole experience has absolutely destroyed me, my family, and my whole life, and I haven’t even got a life, I just exist.”
The fall that Mr Staves had impacted negatively on not just him, but also on his eldest son, who says he was forced to leave school at just 12-years-old to look after his dad, leaving him with no qualifications and to bear the brunt of his father’s ill health.
“What’s happened to my dad has made me really angry, and I don’t think he’ll ever get over it,” said Jamie, who says he left school aged just 12 in order to care for his dad.
“I’ve suffered myself as well with a spine injury, and I lost my wife to cancer in 2011 when our son was only five-years-old, so I’ve had a lot to cope with, so supporting my dad on top of everything has been really difficult.
“My dad was in a really bad way when he first had his accident – he was bedridden for seven months and couldn’t get up to walk.
“He used my brother and me as walking sticks to get around and used to ask us to pull his legs as hard as we could to try and sort his back out.
“I left school when I was 12 to look after my dad full time as he couldn’t do anything for himself, and over the last 21 years since his fall, I’ve been looking out for him ever since.
“We are a close knit family even though my mum and dad split in 1991, and we all look out for each other, but what my dad has gone through has put a strain on us all, and I think his accident has physically and mentally ruined his life.
“I feel for him – he’s living in a shared house on Beverley Road that he struggles to keep clean and tidy, he wants to work but can’t, and now his benefits have been stopped.”
What the DWP say
The DWP say that they are re-examining Mr Staves’ case. A spokesman said:“At Mr Staves’ request we are re-examining his case and will be in touch with a decision shortly.
“ESA decisions are made following consideration of all the information provided by the claimant, including supporting evidence from their GP or medical specialist.”