Caister woman forced to live on £71 a week after unsuccessful PIP assessment

Maureen Chapman pictured with her daughter Laura Luxford. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

Maureen Chapman pictured with her daughter Laura Luxford. Picture : ANTONY KELLY - Credit: copyright ARCHANT 2017

A national poverty charity has highlighted how the move from Disability Living Allowance (DLA) to Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is leaving many people with a disability in the region struggling to pay for their basic living costs.

Maureen Chapman pictured with her daughter Laura Luxford. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

Maureen Chapman pictured with her daughter Laura Luxford. Picture : ANTONY KELLY - Credit: copyright ARCHANT 2017

While 3,649 people are already receiving PIP in Norwich, the charity said many people who have been receiving DLA, but have not passed the PIP assessment, are contacting it for help as they have been left struggling to make ends meet.

PIP is the benefit which is replacing DLA, extra money for adults who have care and mobility needs as a result of their disability.

Maureen Chapman, from Caister near Great Yarmouth, was assessed for PIP because she was under 64 on the date it started.

Mrs Chapman, 68, said: 'I had a very bad fall about 14 years ago, I worked all my life until then.'

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She said she was put on DLA then, and it was a great help. She said: 'But since this PIP came along they sent me to an interview and took the money away. Now I personally have to live on £71 a week,' she said.

Previously, she had been receiving £120 to get by. And although her husband Andrew's pension tops up the household budget by around £160, the couple said they now struggle and have had to move to a small bungalow.

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Mrs Chapman said because she had some strength in her arm and could find her own way about, the assessor had not approved her claim.

Turn2Us said many people find the assessment very difficult.

'I used to use the DLA to have someone come in and clean for me, because I can't do that. And I can't drive now either, so need to get taxis.'

And because of a car accident two years ago, Mrs Chapman also has issues with her neck, for which her doctor provided a letter.

Mrs Chapman does not get a full individual pension, because of a quirk in National Insurance rules where she paid reduced contributions, known as 'the married woman's stamp'.

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'It's made me not well, mentally,' she added. 'It's not fair, there are people who don't go to work because they don't want to.'

'We had a hairdressers business and a clothing business in the 1960s, we worked hard.'

She added: 'I'm just in all the time now, I just don't go anywhere. It's taken away my freedom.'

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People already in receipt of DLA, aged between 16 and 64 on April 8, 2013, will eventually have to make a new claim for PIP, even if they have been given an indefinite or lifetime award of DLA. Those aged 65 or over on April 8, 2013 will carry on getting DLA.

Alison Taylor, director of Turn2us operations, said: 'This will result in a significant drop in the income of someone who has an illness or disability and represents the loss of genuinely valuable support. It can have sudden and devastating consequences.'

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A spokesman for the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) said: 'Decisions for PIP are made following consideration of all the information provided by the claimant, including supporting evidence from their GP or medical specialist. Anyone that disagrees with a decision can ask us to look at it again, and if they're still unhappy with it they can appeal to an independent tribunal.'

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