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Former trawlerman battling lung disease hits out at benefit bosses after being declared fit for work

PUBLISHED: 11:10 01 November 2018 | UPDATED: 15:17 01 November 2018

Former trawlerman David Macalpine has been declared fit for work by the DWP despite suffering from COPD, emphysema and has a deformed disk in his back.
Picture: Nick Butcher

Former trawlerman David Macalpine has been declared fit for work by the DWP despite suffering from COPD, emphysema and has a deformed disk in his back. Picture: Nick Butcher

Archant © 2018

A Lowestoft man has hit out at benefit bosses after being declared fit to work, despite battling COPD and severe back pain for nearly four decades.

Former trawlerman David Macalpine has been declared fit for work by the DWP despite suffering from COPD, emphysema and has a deformed disk in his back.
Picture: Nick ButcherFormer trawlerman David Macalpine has been declared fit for work by the DWP despite suffering from COPD, emphysema and has a deformed disk in his back. Picture: Nick Butcher

David Macalpine, 62, moved to Lowestoft from Coventry aged 17 to begin a fishing career as a trawlerman, but has not worked for more than 35 years after suffering a deformed disc in his back.

Yet the Department for Work and Pensions have declared him able to return to work.

Mr Macalpine, of Victoria Terrace, said: “I am suffering with COPD and it is a long-term illness. The council recognise COPD as a disability but the DWP look at it differently which is just stupid.

“I have also been diagnosed with a muscular disorder because I have a deformed disc in my back since I was fishing and I have been told not to lift anything. I do push myself and just get on with it but I get severe back pain and shortness of breath and I am not fit to go back to work.

Former trawlerman David Macalpine has been declared fit for work by the DWP despite suffering from COPD, emphysema and has a deformed disk in his back.
Picture: Nick ButcherFormer trawlerman David Macalpine has been declared fit for work by the DWP despite suffering from COPD, emphysema and has a deformed disk in his back. Picture: Nick Butcher

“I have got a sicknote from my doctor which lasts until the end of November. They are going against the doctors professional advice.”

Mr Macalpine, who has been claiming Universal Credit since February 2017, claims he is struggling to survive on his benefits, and fears facing sanctions if he does not comply with their demands.

He said: “My argument is that you have got druggies and alcoholics not looking for work, so why don’t they sort them out?

“I know there are people out there with less illnesses than I do who are on Personal Independence Payment and other benefits.

Former trawlerman David Macalpine has been declared fit for work by the DWP despite suffering from COPD, emphysema and has a deformed disk in his back.
Picture: Nick ButcherFormer trawlerman David Macalpine has been declared fit for work by the DWP despite suffering from COPD, emphysema and has a deformed disk in his back. Picture: Nick Butcher

“All I get is £317 to live on a month and after I take my bills out for water and council tax and electricity, I am lucky if I survive on £200.

“I am having to do a course where I stand on my feet all day because if I don’t then they will sanction me.

“It is absolutely ridiculous. I know my own body and they are messing me about.”

COPD includes a number of lung conditions which cause breathing difficulties, with problems usually getting worse over time and limiting normal activities.

A spokesman for the DWP said: “We are absolutely committed to ensuring that disabled people get the right support they need.

“Decisions for benefits are made following consideration of all the information provided by the claimant, including supporting evidence from their GP or medical specialist.

“Anyone who disagrees with a decision has the right to appeal.”

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