Northamptonshire families speak of anguish after drastic disability benefit cuts

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Families in the north of the county have spoken of their anguish after their disability benefits suffered drastic cutbacks following medical assessments.

Controversial £4.4bn Government cuts to PIP (Personal Independence Payments) benefits were scrapped in a dramatic U-turn earlier this week.

But Kettering woman Gloria Speirs, 67, says she will no longer receive any disability benefits - despite having a terminal illness.

She said: “I’ve got stage four COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) but doctors don’t know how much time I’ve got left.

“They call it the silent killer - it’s quite similar to emphysema.

“When I was told I would get no benefits I was absolutely flabbergasted.

“I use a wheelchair, mobility scooter and stairlift to get around and I am reliant on my partner John for everyday life tasks.

“I can’t walk more than 10 steps without having to sit down but they told me I can walk 200 metres.”

Mrs Speirs believes she should get the highest rate of disability benefits available.

She added: “I used to get £450 a month but now I get nothing.

“I cannot do anything because my mobility is so bad.

“I’m so angry, one minute I’m eligible for payments and the next I’m told I’m not.

“I believe I should get the highest rate and will be appealing the decision.”

Isham man Andy Meads cares for his wife Jacqueline, who has chronic multiple sclerosis, and his son Thomas, who has learning difficulties.

Their disability benefits have almost halved following a medical assessment - and he says it’s left him feeling “almost suicidal”.

He said: “My wife’s MS has got worse and worse over time.

“We’re basically housebound and it’s having an absolutely horrendous effect on us.

“I care for them 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for £55.10 a week.

“We don’t know what to do and it’s left us feeling almost suicidal.”

Mr Meads stands to lose £35.65 a week, on top of having to pay an extra percentage of council tax.

He added: “We’ve been told that we’re not eligible for certain elements but we’re reliant on them.

“The damage has already been implemented.

“We’re left stuck in Isham and can’t really do anything about it, it’s heartbreaking.

“Nobody wants to be disabled but we’re not getting the help we need.”

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesperson said: “PIP ensures that support is targeted at those who need it most.

“Decisions on PIP eligibility are made after consideration of all the evidence, including an assessment and information provided by the claimant and their GP.

“The majority of people leaving the Motability Scheme will be eligible for a one-off payment of £2,000, which will help ensure their mobility needs continue to be met. Claimants can appeal decisions.”