Dis­abled mum’s symp­toms made worse by ben­e­fit cuts

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Development Update - By Ai­dan Bar­low

A dis­abled mum says she feels she is be­ing tar­geted af­ter changes to ben­e­fits were brought in by the gov­ern­ment.

Yolanda Barker, 45, from Sin­gle­ton, has lived with mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis for the past 20 years and has re­ceived dis­abil­ity ben­e­fits for the past 10 years.

But since the gov­ern­ment changed the Dis­abil­ity Liv­ing Al­lowance to the Per­sonal In­de­pen­dence Pay­ment (PIP), she has lost out on the higher rate of sup­port.

She said: “Life isn’t go­ing to get any eas­ier for me, yet I feel like I’m be­ing tar­geted. The sys­tem has made me feel like I’m dis­hon­est and that I’m con­tin­u­ally be­ing judged. There’s just no let up from it.

“The fi­nan­cial im­pact on me and my fam­ily has been huge. The whole process took around a year and it caused me a great deal of stress. My symp­toms wors­ened, as did my de­pres­sion.

“There were so many things the as­ses­sor got wrong or didn’t men­tion in my re­port. I tried my best to ex­plain how my symp­toms af­fect me dif­fer­ently ev­ery day but I don’t think he un­der­stood this. If your prob­lems don’t fit in their boxes, they’re not taken into ac­count.”

Mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis af­fects around 100,000 peo­ple in Bri­tain, and is caused by the body’s im­mune sys­tem at­tack­ing mye- lin, a sub­stance which pro­tects nerve end­ings. It causes se­vere pain and cur­rently there is no cure for the con­di­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to re­search by the MS So­ci­ety suf­fer­ers have lost out on £6 mil­lion each year as a re­sult of gov­ern­ment’s changes.

They found that more than 2,000 peo­ple who had pre­vi­ously qual­i­fied for the high level of sup­port pro­vided by DLA had lost ben­e­fits un­der PIP.

A De­part­ment of Work and Pen­sions spokesman said that 74% of MS suf­fer­ers who have made the switch from DLA to PIP still re­ceive the top rate of sup­port.

The spokesman said: “We recog­nise symp­toms of mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis can fluc­tu­ate over time, and reg­u­lar re­assess­ments mean we can en­sure peo­ple with de­gen­er­a­tive con­di­tions get the help they need as their con­di­tion changes.

“Assess­ments con­sider ill­nesses which af­fect suf­fer­ers dur­ing the ma­jor­ity of days in a year, rather than just on some­one’s ‘best days’ or as­sess­ing abil­ity on a sin­gle day.”

Mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis suf­ferer Yolanda Barker

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