Essex

Colchester benefits centre's lack of access 'degrading'

Ali Wilkin in a wheelchair outside the benefits office in Colchester.
Image caption Ali Wilkin has an autoimmune condition and retired last year but is yet to receive any benefits

A wheelchair user has said poor access at a benefits centre means she cannot attend a disability assessment.

Ali Wilkin - who has a condition that causes chronic fatigue and pain - said staff at the office in Colchester suggested she travel to Chelmsford.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said the building met legal requirements because it had an intercom system outside to call for assistance.

But Mrs Wilkin said using it would be "humiliating and degrading".

She said: "This is the 21st Century, not the 17th.

"My youngest son has to stay at home to look after me and my parents and grandfather do what they can, but I'm a proud woman and I hate this".

She retired last summer because of an autoimmune condition but said she was yet to receive any benefits.

The DWP said it would be looking again at how the building could me made more accessible.

In a statement it said: "We're absolutely committed to ensuring that disabled people get the right support that they need.

"All our centres meet legal accessibility requirements but we go further and can arrange to meet at more accessible sites nearby or discuss whether a home visit would be appropriate."

It added it was unable to comment on why Mrs Wilkin had not been given a home visit but said her case was being reviewed.

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