A wheelchair user who had his leg amputated turned up for a disability assessment but was sent home - because it was on the first floor and he wasn't allowed to use the lift.

Michael Sparks was shocked when job centre staff told him his appointment was not on the ground floor and he couldn't use a lift as he would be 'a fire hazard'.

One woman worker then even asked the 52 year old, whose right leg is amputated below the knee, if he could walk up the stairs instead.

Mr Sparks, a former garden nursery worker who had waited almost a year to be assessed, was forced to go home because staff wouldn't carry out the assessment on the ground floor.

It was only after Mr Sparks complained to Atos, which carries out assessments of claimants on behalf of the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), that he was told he could have a home assessment.

Mr Sparks, who lives in the New Forest hamlet of East End, near Lymington, Hants, has Type 2 diabetes.

He first applied for Personal Independence Payment (PIP), the benefit replacing Disability Living Allowance, in March.

Despite regular weekly phone calls Mr Sparks, who was told he would have to wait up to 26 weeks for an appointment, was only given one this month - 10 months after first applying.

Due to a bone infection he had to have part of his right leg removed in October last year.

But when he arrived at the appointment at Bournemouth Jobcentre, Dorset, where Atos carries out its assessments, he was "flabbergasted" to find he would not be allowed to use the lift.

Mr Sparks' niece, Samantha Sherwood, 20, took the day off work to drive him 22 miles to his appointment.

He said: "I got to Bournemouth Jobcentre just to be told I was not allowed to use the lift.

"The first question I was asked was 'can you walk up and down the stairs?'.

"I was flabbergasted.

"They said I couldn't use the lift to get upstairs in case there was a fire and the lift had to be turned off.

"They are running a disability assessment, yet this seems to be disability discrimination against those in a wheelchair.

"It was a big job centre, they could have had the assessment downstairs."

He said: "When the lady at the front desk said I couldn't use the lift and asked if I could get up the stairs, my niece and I shared a look of surprise.

"The woman said we should have been offered a home assessment - but I never was.

"Even though I had previously mentioned to Atos staff several times that I was in a wheelchair and had had my right foot amputated, it was never offered to me.

"After leaving the Jobcentre I telephoned Atos that afternoon and complained and have now been offered a home assessment for this Friday."

A spokeswoman for the DWP said: "People who are invited to attend the assessment centre in Bournemouth are advised in advance that it is located on the first floor and invited to contact us if they think this may present a difficulty for them.

"We are sorry that Mr Sparks had a wasted journey and a home consultation has now been booked with him.

"The reason the lift cannot be used is because if there is a fire there is nowhere for someone who cannot use the stairs - like a wheelchair user - to escape.

"The assessments need to be carried out on the first floor, where the Atos assessment centre is, as the medical rooms are on the first floor with the equipment and privacy necessary."