World of Sport

One-legged Paralympian ‘not disabled enough’ for benefits

World of Sport

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Wayne Fisher, a former Paralympic basketball player for Great Britain, has been told he will not receive benefits because he is not disabled enough.

Fisher, who had his lower leg removed as a child because of a condition which meant it did not grow normally, had applied for a disability living allowance after losing his job, in the hope that he could apply for an automatic Motability car, and increase his chances of finding work.

But despite having received the allowance when he last needed it in 2005, he discovered he was ineligible for the benefit because it is now only available to the 'most severely' disabled.

Fisher, who featured for GB at the 1996 Games in Atlanta, has a five-month-old daughter and his family are living off the maternity pay of his wife Emma.

"I know the government is cracking down on benefit cheats," Fisher told the Manchester Evening News, "and they're right to do that. But I'm not putting this on, I can't just grow another leg."

His wife Emma added: "We have to live on £109. I bet people in the government spend that on lunch."

Fisher said that the Paralympians at the recent London Games have not convinced the government to change their attitude to those with disabilities.

"I've worked most of my life," Fisher said, "and I want to carry on working. I've paid into the system all my life and when I want something back from it I feel like they are putting up a brick wall. The Paralympics have changed attitudes, but the government has not changed its attitude about helping those who need it."

Several ministers presented medals and attended the Paralympics, and received a mixed reception from the audience.

While London Mayor Boris Johnson was cheered for the most part, and former Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown received a generous welcome, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne and Home Secretary Theresa May were both roundly booed at the Olympic Stadium.

Their perceived attitudes to the disabled and cuts to funding were cited as possible reasons that they attracted hostility.

Record-breaking Paralympian Tanni Grey-Thompson, now a Baroness, has slammed voiced her opposition to the changes, saying Disability Living Allowance enabled disabled people to live with their independence intact.

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