A bitter row has broken out concerning thirty six year-old Will Protheroe from Wimborne, who has been declared fit for work by the DWP despite having been in a vegetative state for six years.

Three months ago he received a letter asking that he present himself at the local assessment centre for a medical examination. His wife Julie called the DWP and explained her husband’s ongoing condition then thought no more about it until his benefits suddenly stopped without warning.

When she queried this she was told he had been sanctioned, with his benefits disallowed for not turning up at the appointment but she could appeal on his behalf should she wish.

Appearing on Andrew Marr former Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith said: ‘Look, I’m proud of the reforms that I helped to bring in. People scrounging off the system claiming for benefits that they’re not entitled to has been costing us millions every year and it’s vital it’s stopped.’

‘I can’t comment on this specific case in any real depth except to say Mr Protheroe says he’s ill, so if he is and he had actually bothered to attended his appointment then he wouldn’t be in this position now. I don’t wish to be seen as being uncaring here… but you know… hasn’t he only got himself to blame?’

Another of Mr Duncan Smith’s successors Esther McVey agrees. ‘Perhaps if Mr Protheroe is able to blink then couldn’t he do that thing were he’s hooked up to a computer, a bit like Stephen Hawking was. The computer could be interfaced with some kind of switching device to perform a basic sorting factory job? I mean just think how much he’d feel better about himself if gainfully employed instead of living off benefits.’