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DWP To Disabled Claimant: No Benefit? Use Food Banks

May 2, 2017

BEDRIDDEN multiple-stroke victim Alan Buchanan and his wife Heather feared they were going to be made homeless after a bureaucratic cock-up left them facing extreme poverty.

And when the couple asked the government for advice they were told to go to the local food bank.

Alan, who lives in Callander, had his first stroke at the age of 50. It was the first of several major seizures that left the successful businessman, who had run his own company and travelled the world, bedbound and entirely dependent on his wife, and the occasional visits of carers.

Fifteen years after that first stroke, Alan’s wife Heather said the couple cope and that she has always felt lucky to still have him and grateful for help the state provides.

But earlier this year they were left facing a nightmare when an assessment for Alan’s benefits didn’t happen because the inspector turned up two hours early when the 65-year-old was with his carers.

Two weeks later, without warning, the Department for Work and Pensions cancelled Alan’s benefits, leaving the family fearing homelessness.

Yesterday in parliament, the Buchanans’ tribulations were raised at Prime Minister’s Questions by local MP Steven Paterson. Speaking afterwards, Heather shared the family’s “horror story” with The National.

“We had a letter last year to say he was going from DLA to PIP, then we had a letter to say there would be an assessment,” she said.

“I telephoned the PIP place and specifically asked for an assessment to come to the house after 11 in the morning as his carers are in before then. He has to be bathed, toileted, pyjamas back on.

“For someone to come before that… it’s impossible to speak to him. Some of the time he’s quite bright, other times he’s dreadful, he’s just not very well at all.”

She was told that this wasn’t a problem. But on the day of the assessment, the Atos inspector turned up at 8.50am. Despite being offered the chance to see the state Alan was in, and to see the house, the assessor offered to rearrange.

That never happened, and a fortnight later the Buchanans were told they would be getting nothing in their PIP, as “there wasn’t enough evidence”.

They were offered a tribunal date, and when Heather asked officials for advice on what they should do if they were struggling, they were told to use the local food bank.

“That just horrified me,” Heather said. “It’s just dreadful when somebody is so poorly. We don’t live near any food banks anyway. The nearest one is Stirling.”

Despite protestations from his GP and social work the DWP persisted. It was only when Paterson and his office got involved that the DWP reinstated DLA. That transfer to PIP is still to happen, and the assessment imminent.

“It’s very difficult. Life is hard enough at times. I’m not complaining about that because he’s still here,” Heather said.

“It’s horrible what he’s being put through. We’re not the only ones. I know we’re not the only ones. I’ve heard from other people that have had similar experiences. People just don’t know what to do. The stress is unbelievable.”

In a raucous Prime Minister’s Questions, the last before Parliament breaks for the General Election, Paterson raised the Buchanans’ case with Theresa May and asked why the Government’s welfare regime was “punishing vulnerable people like my constituent?”

“We want to ensure that we have a system that properly assesses people who apply for benefits,” May replied. “As the honourable gentleman has said, and as other members will know, there have been issues relating to the way in which the system has operated. The Department for Work and Pensions has been looking very carefully at it to ensure that it makes proper assessments and delivers the right results for people.”

Speaking after the parliamentary session, Paterson told The National that the Buchanans weren’t an isolated case.

“I don’t think it’s exceptional. What I’m hearing from colleagues again and again is whatever the reason for missing an assessment, even if it’s genuine, the sanction is always imposed. It’s very hard to change it. This seems to be how the regime works. Certainly this case is terrible.

“It should never have happened. It’s a minor mistake but the consequences have been terrible.”

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said they were currently looking into the Buchanans’ case.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. jeffrey davies permalink
    May 2, 2017 7:47 am

    We want to ensure that we have a system that properly assesses people who apply for benefits,” May replied. “As the honourable gentleman has said, and as other members will know, there have been issues relating to the way in which the system has operated. The Department for Work and Pensions has been looking very carefully at it to ensure that it makes proper assessments and delivers the right results for people. she knows she nows dam well that more suffering to come its diabolical how they can get away with it these parasites who run our country yet more to suffer more to die while they smile their crocadile tears aktion t4 at its best

  2. Sarah permalink
    May 2, 2017 10:17 am

    It is rediculous that ATOS etc are paid millions to not do their job correctly and fairly. They have a habit of turning up early to home appointments, and making up at least part of the assessment despite evidence that contradicts what they state. How many phonecalls to the DWP from MP’s are needed to tell that there is something very wrong with the system?
    PIP is not fit for purpose. The situation faced by the Buchanan’s should never have happened..

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