Desperate times for disabled Kettering man after not being told his benefits assessment had been cancelled

A disabled Kettering man with mental health issues says he will rely on a food bank to eat this week after not being told a benefits assessment had been cancelled.

Wednesday, 27th November 2019, 4:18 pm
Updated Wednesday, 27th November 2019, 4:20 pm
John Campbell had to travel from Kettering to Charles House in Derngate, Northampton, for his PIP assessment, which turned out to be cancelled. Photo: Google

John Campbell had to pay for a taxi to get to the appointment in Northampton to be assessed for a personal independence payment (PIP) on Monday (November 25).

But the 50-year-old, who struggles to walk due to arthritis, was told it did not exist by the receptionist, causing an anxiety attack from the stress of wasting money and being let down.

A spokesman for Capita, which carries out PIP assessments on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in the East Midlands, said they will reimburse him for his expenses.

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But Mr Campbell said: "I'm very annoyed to be honest because my first appointment was cancelled because of my own mental issues.

"Then I got the letter saying I had to be there on the 25th so I did everything possible and I took £38 out of my budget to make sure I got there for the appointment.

"But if I didn't have the appointment, why didn't they inform me and how many other people are they doing this to?"

Mr Campbell hurt his back in 2004 and has suffered with spinal issues ever since, while the loss of his daughter and mother around the same time caused serious depression and anxiety issues.

He used to get disability living allowance before it was scrapped for PIP, a non-means tested benefit for people aged between 16 and 64 who have a long term health condition.

The north-east native was told he was 'not disabled enough' and relies on Universal Credit but decided to apply again for PIP as his health has deteriorated.

"I thought it was about time I applied for PIP after struggling for a while as I know my nerve will snap at some point and I will be in a wheelchair," he said.

PIP would mean he could afford things like a taxi to go to the shops instead of having to walk, which can be tiresome and painful, often resulting in him collapsing in the street.

Capita's assessments 'focus on how an individual's health conditions may impact on their daily life' and 'an important part' of it is a face-to-face consultation, according to its website.

To make the 8.10am appointment in Northampton - having been refused a home visit - Mr Campbell did not take his painkillers overnight as he would not wake up in time otherwise, meaning a sleepless and sore night.

He then had to pay £25 for a taxi to get from his home in Arthurs Way to Capita's base at Charles House, Derngate.

But when he arrived, he was told there was no record of an appointment, and a further investigation found they would be contacting his GP to do the assessment instead.

Mr Campbell said he had an anxiety attack in the office before a 'perilous' journey back to Kettering on the bus where he was worried for his own stability.

"They apologised on the phone but I said that's not good enough as they should call people when you cancel appointments so people don't pay for it," he said.

"I'm going to have to use a food bank, I've been too proud before as I think it should go to homeless people instead of me but I'm going to have to go if I want to eat this week."

The Capita spokesman added it is 'committed to delivering a high-quality and empathetic service for everyone applying for PIP'.