Advice service funded by Tampon Tax helps disabled mum win benefits fight

PUBLISHED: 17:00 05 February 2019

The woman was told she was fit enough to work when she struggled to walk. Picture: Nick Ansell/PA Archive

The woman was told she was fit enough to work when she struggled to walk. Picture: Nick Ansell/PA Archive

PA Archive/PA Images

A disabled woman told she was fit enough to work even though she struggled to walk has been awarded £23,000 a year following a U-turn.

The 49-year-old woman from Tower Hamlets, who asked to be named as Ms A, relied on carers to help with daily tasks but despite this was told she had to find a job and sign up for universal credit (UC) following a medical assessment.

A mum, Ms A suffers from osteoarthritis which causes stiff and painful joints on top of fibromyalgia that can lead to increased sensitivity to pain.

She racked up rent and council tax debts of £2,000 after her existing benefits including employment and support allowance (ESA) stopped before she was told to apply for UC, which rolls a number of benefits into single, monthly payments.

Desperate for help she sought went to the benefit advice service, The Real Change Collective (RCC), based in Praxis Community Projects in Pott Street, Bethnal Green which specialises in helping black, Asian and minority ethnic women.

Welfare benefits adviser, Memuna Kargbo, said that when Ms A first came to see her she was lying on the waiting room floor because she was in so much pain.

Ms Kargbo said: “She had managed to put food on the table and pay some of her bills, but she was on the brink of destitution.”

Ms A took her case to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) which after reviewing her situation reinstated her benefits and provided her with extra money through a personal independence payment (PIP) amounting to £23,200 a year.

RCC is a project led by the housing association Arhag and funded by the Tampon Tax Fund which awards money to charities helping vulnerable women.

Arhag boss, Cedric Boston, said: “The Tampon Tax Fund money is allowing us to bring real change to people’s lives.

“We’ve had a huge impact in just three months and believe this is just the start of measurable help we can bring to those who need it most.”

A DWP spokeswoman said anyone who thinks a decision about their entitlement to ESA or PIP is incorrect can ask for the decision to be reviewed.

The claimant can provide more evidence at a mandatory review stage to support their case. If they are still unhappy the can appeal.

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