Couple who weigh 54 stone between them claim £2,000 a month in benefits because they're too fat to work - and use it to pay for £3,000 dream wedding

January 5, 2015 10:27 AM

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Couple who weigh 54 stone between them claim £2,000 a month in benefits because they're too fat to work - and use it to pay for £3,000 dream wedding

A couple who weigh more than 54 stone between them and claim £2,000 a month in benefits because they are 'too fat to work' have wed in a £3,000 ceremony - paid for by the taxpayer.

Stephen Beer and Michelle Coombe, are from Plymouth, where 60 per cent of adults are overweight.

Mr Beer, who has already been married five times, weighs 31 stone and has not worked in five years. He suffered a stroke in 2008 while he weighed 27 stone and now relies on carers to come in twice a day to clean and dress him.

His partner Ms Coombe has never worked and at 23 stone claims she is too big to find a job.

The couple were filmed by the makers of Benefits: Too Fat To Work, a Channel 5 documentary about benefit claimants who claim their weight prevents them from working.

They are among 12,000 people who received Disability Living Allowance last year because they have metabolic disease - the medical term for a combination of obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure.

The Department for Work and Pensions statistics show that the number of claimants with the condition has more than doubled from around 5,500 five years ago.

Despite claiming they are unable to find jobs because potential employers are prejudiced against fat people, Mr Beer and his future wife can be seen eagerly planning their £3,000 wedding ceremony, paid for out of their benefits.

Producers followed them as they organised the ceremony - including canapes and a buffet provided by their favourite kebab shop, and custom made outfits for the pair of them - from their one bedroom flat in Plymouth, paid for out of housing benefits.

The couple are trying to lose weight before the big day, joining two weight loss courses in a bid to squeeze into their made to measure wedding outfits but they are struggling to cut back on the takeaways.Mr Beer likes kebabs, Chinese food and spaghetti Bolognese.

Mr Beer claims he wants as job - ideally 'sitting down in a kiosk on theTamar Bridge' or as Santa Claus in a department store - but his weight is a significant barrier and he believes anti-fat prejudice is holding him back.

He can't stand up for more than a few minutes at a time, he relies on a council carer to get washed and dressed - at a cost to the tax payer of £8,000 a year - and he can only get around on a specially adapted mobility scooter for the obese.

The documentary - to air tonight - shows the couple escorted between the register office and Church by a fleet of motorbikes. But their wedding came to an abrupt end as Mr Beer is taken ill at the reception and taken away in an ambulance.

The programme also follows Amy Johnstone, who at just 18-years-old already weighs 32 stone.

She is virtually housebound and unable to do the most basic things for herself, including wash, and as such is entitled to £240 a fortnight in Disability Benefits.

'I wouldn't be able to manage. I would be in pain. It's not my fault that i'm like this.

'I can't bend down because I can't reach. I have trouble getting in and out of the bath.

Her mother Sharon - who herself is 20 stone - helps her daughter to shower and claims that being on benefits has contributed to her weight problem.

The documentary comes after it was revealed that thousands of people are being paid sickness benefits because they are too fat to work – at a cost to the taxpayer of £54million.

Shocking figures show welfare payments for claimants with obesity-related illnesses have more than doubled in five years – highlighting the crisis blighting Britain.

Obesity is also a massive burden on the NHS and costs the health service more than £9billion a year.

Ministers have been accused of failing to take proper action against the food industry to help the public by cutting calories in food and drink, and to help people make healthier choices.

Some DLA claimants have jobs but the vast majority are out of work. Recipients can receive up to £138 a week.

Nearly one in five British secondary school pupils and a quarter of adults are obese, according to officials figures.

Health experts predict that by 2050 the annual bill for obestity-related illnessed will have risen to £50billion a year, with almost two-thirds of the population obese.


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