Page last updated at 11:14 GMT, Tuesday, 18 September 2012 12:14 UK

Welfare Reform Committee

MSPs heard how a blind former health worker has been reduced to begging by the UK welfare reforms on 18 September 2012.

In a statement read out by the Welfare Reform Committee clerk, Mr Henry Sherlock wrote:

"I thought the days of the blind man begging with a cup on street corners were gone.

"Sadly, that is not the case.

"I still rely on family hand outs and additional begged support in order to live."

Mr Sherlock also said he had been "harassed and bullied" by the Department of Work and Pensions and ATOS, the private firm paid to carry out fit-to-work medical assessments.

"I originally applied for DLA and due to my disability then, was awarded DLA for life. Then the wording suddenly changed on communications stating 'indefinitely'.

"It truly is a sad reflection of any government that refuses to see the true fear it has put the most vulnerable in our society under. In my opinion, it is simple persecution. We did not choose our disabilities."

The committee also heard from Mr Norman Gray, whose son Andrew has Aspergers and works at a hotel.

Mr Gray said: "Whilst I am in favour of rationalising the benefit system and closing as many loopholes as possible I feel the proposals for DLA are too rigid and do not take into account the real needs of the individual nor does it recognise the complexity of Aspergers and other ASD sufferers who are individually unique, do not fit the norm and have a developmental difficulty rather than a learning one.

"In Andrew's case he is making a very strong contribution to society in several fields to the limits of his capabilities.

"The proposals would make short term savings for a long term additional cost."

The final witness, part of the 'Your say' project to gain personal insight into the changes to the Welfare System, was Mrs Janice Scott.

Mrs Scott's husband is 61 years old and had suffered from a massive stroke.

She said : "I really feel a lot in this system has not been totally thought through and it will affect many people's lives, including my husband's and mine, badly due to their cuts and changes to take place.

"If there is anything at all that your working group can do on the benefit cuts then please do so on behalf of those of us who do not have a voice in this matter."

Welfare Reform Committee

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