Woman who can’t read, write, walk or talk ‘declared fit for work’ by DWP

Georgina and Paula Ball

A 26-year-old woman with a severe disability recently had her benefit payments stopped. Her name is Georgina Ball. And she is unable to walk, talk, read or write.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) claims her payments stopped because she missed an appointment. An appointment which would have assessed Georgina’s ability to work. The woman’s full-time carer, her mother Paula Ball, denies that any such appointment existed. And she explains their situation in this video:

Georgina’s condition

Georgina suffers from Aicardi Syndrome, which causes symptoms including severe epileptic seizures and learning disabilities. Because of this, she receives Employment Support Allowance (ESA). This benefit is assessed differently dependent on a person’s condition. The government’s own website states that:

You’ll then be placed in one of 2 groups if you’re entitled to ESA:

  • work-related activity group, where you’ll have regular interviews with an adviser
  • support group, where you don’t have interviews

While it may be appropriate to reassess someone whose condition may improve, it’s clearly inappropriate to force someone with a diagnosed life-long condition to keep proving it.

The ‘missed’ appointment

The DWP sent a letter on 23 December alleging a missed appointment. Paula Ball explains [emphasis added]:

Read on...

The [DWP] want her to go to work assessment to prove that she’s fit for work, but as you can see, she’s not fit for work. Their argument is they said they sent an appointment, which I didn’t receive. So when I phoned them I explained to them. They said well explain why she didn’t turn up. So I explained to them, well how can you [ask me to] explain something when I didn’t have the appointment in the first place.

So they stopped the benefits. Because they didn’t receive my letter back to them… I wrote an A4 letter back to them explaining Georgina’s needs and disabilities and what she needs. Recorded delivery. They then sent out a P45 saying she was fit for work. I got back on the phone and explained to them I’d sent them a recorded delivery letter. They actually found it and then said they would set her payment back up and now they’ve sent another appointment for a works assessment in February.

Georgina has had her payments reinstated. But the Balls face another mandatory appointment at the Mann Island Health Assessment Advisory Service on 15 February. This is despite a doctor sending the DWP a letter confirming Georgina’s condition. If she misses this appointment, her payments will once more stop. Paula told them that their disabled toilets would not be sufficient for Georgina, who is doubly incontinent. Despite this, the DWP has not offered them a home visit.

Jumping through hoops

The Canary has previously reported on other people with disabilities who have been let down by the DWP. Obviously, there must be assessments for fairness and accuracy, but as Paula Ball points out:

Georgina’s condition is only going to get worse.

There is no chance of her getting better, she has a poor prognosis of life.

But many disabled people, like Georgina, don’t have people to fight their case for them and are dragged to these appointments and then when they don’t go, they have their money stopped.

I understand that there are people wrongly playing the system and they have to check but they are doing it to the wrong people.

They have all Georgina’s medical evidence in front of them. She will never be able to work.

DWP response

The DWP told The Liverpool Echo:

We review people’s circumstances to ensure they have access to the correct level of support to match their needs.

But we recognise that for some people their conditions are unlikely to change, which is why we recently announced that we will be stopping re-assessments for people with the most severe health conditions and disabilities.

The department also claimed that it made the original appointment because Mrs Ball had not filled out the correct form. Her failure to do so meant that the DWP scheduled Georgina for a three-yearly review.


There seems to be little benefit in the benefit system’s current rigorousness. And yet there are incredibly apparent downsides to it. No reasonable person would think that a person in Georgina’s situation should have to prove what doctors have already confirmed, just for the sake of ticking boxes. But these situations still keep arising.

Get Involved!

– Support Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC).

– Sign the petition to stop cuts to disabled people’s benefits.

Featured image via video screengrab

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us

Comments are closed