Jenny had been told that she was ineligible for PIP, the benefit for people with physical and/or mental illnesses. Jenny was deeply traumatised due to years of horrific abuse at the hands of her partner. She also suffered from severe psychosis. Unsurprisingly, the physiotherapist whom DWP employed to assess Jenny’s health didn’t have the required skill set for the job. This so-called “healthcare professional” awarded Jenny 0 points, judging her as not needing any support. This left her destitute and further damaged her health. Reading Welfare Rights invited Jenny to the office. We conducted a diagnostic assessment revealing exactly what level of support Jenny was entitled to. We took the case to Court. We argued ferociously before the Judge and won the case. Jenny was awarded £12,500 backpay and £500 every four weeks for the next 3 years. This support is now allowing her to start to rebuild her life.
Mrs J and Her Husband’s Story
Mrs J contacted us as she and her husband suffered from severe mental and physical health conditions. After discussing their situation with Reading Welfare Rights, it became clear that they would both be eligible for Personal Independence Payments (PIP). After conducting a diagnostic interview, it was clear that Mrs J was eligible for the upper rate for mobility and the lower rate for daily activities. Due to the complex nature of her situation, the decision was made to conduct a home visit. Mrs J had a huge pile of medical evidence and a caseworker from Reading Welfare Rights looked at it and agreed with her what to submit to the tribunal as supporting evidence. Her mental health suddenly deteriorated and she couldn’t interact. This then forced Mrs J to complete the rest of her application alone. The questions she answered alone did not score any points and she was disallowed the daily activities component: missing out by just 4 points. Reading Welfare Rights quickly lodged an online appeal to recover those lost points and the correct amount of benefits, plus a back-pay of more than £8,000 was duly awarded.
Mr and Mrs H Story
Mr & Mrs H are both disabled with a combination of physical disabilities and (in Mr H’s case) also significant mental health problems. They have lived at their current address for many years. They previously owned the house, but following Mrs H being made redundant due to her deteriorating health, they fell into substantial mortgage arrears and were accepted under the mortgage rescue scheme. The property now belongs to a housing association who rents the property back to them. Mr & Mrs H had purchased the property because it was suitable for Mr H’s disability and during the period Mrs H was employed, they had work carried out to adapt the house. Since the housing association took over the management of the property, a further £5,000 has been spent on additional adaptations. The property has two bedrooms, so Mr and Mrs H, who are now permanently benefit-reliant, are now subject to the Bedroom Tax. However, due to the nature of their disabilities, it is not possible for them to share a bedroom (this is supported by their GP, Occupational Therapist, and other professionals) – so downsizing, (even if suitable alternative accommodation was available) is not an option. They are not exempt from the Bedroom Tax on the basis of requiring overnight care, because whilst Mr H does require night care, this only applies if care is provided by someone who is not a member of the household (and the care is provided by Mrs H). We have lodged an appeal against the decision to apply the Bedroom Tax to them on human rights grounds. (A recent test case appeal in Scotland succeeded in a virtually identical case), but it will take months for the appeal to be heard. The local authority awarded a Direct Housing Payment, but this is only a temporary solution. The stress of it all has resulted in Mr H’s mental health deteriorating to the point where he was recently hospitalised.
Mr and Mrs A’s Story
A lived with her husband and their 5 children (including a set of twins) in a 6 bedroom housing association property. 4 of the children were still at school (the eldest one, aged 19 at the time was working, but received only the minimum wage). Mr A was unemployed and was seeking work. The family has accrued debts and were in Council Tax arrears. Mr and Mrs A received Universal Credit, but money was being deducted from their monthly payments to repay a budgeting loan to the DWP. This reduced their Universal Credit payments to the point where they could not make ends meet. Mrs A was looking for work, but had a degenerative visual impairment and had been unable to find suitable employment. Her deteriorating vision also meant that she required her husband’s help to complete most tasks around the house. The non-dependent deduction in respect of their eldest child, reduced their Housing Benefit from £162.15 per week (the full rent due); to £67.09 per week. Also, due to the introduction of the Council Tax Reduction Scheme, they had to cover a proportion of their ongoing Council Tax. Mr & Mrs A were slipping further and further into debt with every passing week. We assisted Mrs A to claim Personal Independence Payments (PIP) due to her visual impairment. She was awarded this, which meant that the family income was no longer affected by the Benefit Cap, which had been another huge problem for the family. We also applied for a Discretionary Housing Payment, which was awarded to Mr and Mrs A. Our efforts, in this case, led to the household finances becoming bearable, but life remains challenging for them.