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Terminally ill Sidmouth gran’s disability allowance slashed by more than half

PUBLISHED: 10:36 15 April 2016 | UPDATED: 09:15 21 April 2016

Susan Whitby has had her benefiits slashed

Susan Whitby has had her benefiits slashed

Archant

Lifelong Conservative Susan,64, says she will never vote for Tories again over Government’s Personal Independence Payment (PIP), saying: “Apparently I’ve lived too long for the Department for Work and Pensions.”

A terminally ill pensioner and lifelong supporter of the Conservatives has hit out at the Government for slashing her disability payment by £80 a week.

Cancer sufferer Susan Whitby’s financial support from the state has plummetted by more than half - from £135 to £55 a week - after she was reassessed for the controversial new Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

The ‘stressed, upset and extremely bitter’ Woolbrook Close resident, told by doctors she could have months or years left, feels she has ‘lived too long’ for the Department for Work and Pensions.

Mrs Whitby, 64, said she has paid more into her pension than she will ever live to take out and, with the cash instead going ‘overseas or to the wealthy’, she will never vote for the Tories again.

She has sent an open letter to Prime Minister David Cameron and East Devon MP Hugo Swire speaking out for herself and the thousands of others she says must be affected.

“The money I was on was just about enough,” said Mrs Whitby. “I’m going to be in treatment indefinitely. Apparently I’ve lived too long for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

“I’m sure there are thousands and thousands of others who don’t know what their life expectancy is.

“The Government will benefit from my pension – I won’t be here in my 80s. After all I have paid in, I deserve a little support now.”

Mrs Whitby was diagnosed with breast cancer aged 40 and was successfully treated with radiotherapy. Three years ago she was ‘shattered’ when doctors said the cancer had returned and spread to her lungs and brain, just months before she was due to retire.

“My oncologist said I could live six months or several years,” said the former legal practice manager. “I just don’t know, but it’s a terminal diagnosis.”

Surgery on her brain meant Mrs Whitby’s driving licence was suspended. She was assessed for the Disability Living Allowance (DLA), put on the ‘enhanced’ rate and later allowed to join the Motability scheme to rent a car when her licence was returned. Mrs Whitby, who has been divorced for 25 years, moved to Sidmouth after her treatment in Rugby to be nearer to her two sons and three grandchildren.

She rented a home in Woolbrook Close assuming she would stay on the higher rate allowance – but in February she was reassessed by the DWP for the new Personal Independence Payment (PIP). She lost her car and saw her benefit slashed by £80 a week to £55.

The rate of PIP depends on how conditions affect individuals, rather than the conditions themselves. It is made up of two components – daily living and mobility - each set at a standard or enhanced rate. It requires a face-to-face interview rather than the self-assessment form for the DLA.

Only those who are not expected to live longer than six months qualify for the higher rate daily living component. It has not been explained to Susan why her allowance was cut.

“I’m loathe to leave this house, but I can’t keep losing the money I have,” said Mrs Whitby. “It would have been better not to be on the higher rate in the first place.

“I’m eating into my savings. They’ll probably last 12 months at the most.

“I can’t treat my grandchildren and I daren’t spend anything. I feel like a second class citizen.

“I rely on lifts because I can’t use public transport. My big outing a couple of times a week is to hospital appointments.”

Mrs Whitby said she got involved with the Conservatives in her 40s, raised thousands of pounds and supported Jeremy Wright’s campaign to become an MP.

“I had always voted Conservative, same as my parents did,” said Mrs Whitby. “I suppose it was the natural thing. I wouldn’t vote for them again unless they can see the big mistake they have made.

“I’m speaking out for everyone suffering the way I am.”

A DWP spokesman said: “Decisions on eligibility for PIP are made after consideration of all the evidence, including evidence from the claimant and their GP.

“If a claimant does not agree with a decision on their benefits, they can ask for us to look at it again.”

8 comments

  • Karma is a bitch now she has to deal with it. I have no sympthy for her she voted tory and for there cuts now it effects her all i can say is welcome to the real world

    Report this comment

    Bill Todd

    Saturday, April 16, 2016

  • No sympathy, she made her own bed voting for 'them' I knew before i got the vote to never vote conservative I am also affected by welfare reform as i was born with spina bifida and use a wheelchair, i get ESA in the support group and DLA, or at least i do for now. It has always been very clear to me that cosnservatives have a hatred for people like me so if you vote for them and then they shaft you, well, tough.

    Report this comment

    Mark Hyde

    Saturday, April 16, 2016

  • Unfortunately, being a lifelong Conservative then you voted for a party that destroyed hundreds of thousands of lives in the time you voted for them. If you had no sympathy for those people then why should anybody have any sympathy for you now? If you are 64 then that is around 15 general elections. Typical self serving Tory voter, only think about how they treat people when it actually happens to you. Unfortunately you have made your bed and must now lie in it.

    Report this comment

    Samuel Adams

    Saturday, April 16, 2016

  • First they came for the Communists And I did not speak out Because I was not a Communist Then they came for the Socialists And I did not speak out Because I was not a Socialist Then they came for the trade unionists And I did not speak out Because I was not a trade unionist Then they came for the Jews And I did not speak out Because I was not a Jew Then they came for me And there was no one left To speak out for me

    Report this comment

    Jane Tilsley

    Saturday, April 16, 2016

  • Mrs Whitby I am sorry that you find yourself in position through no fault of your own, you didn't ask for incurable cancer or poverty did you. However you did ask for a government that has been cutting benefts for sick and poor people for years so now you are reaping the benefts of your choice. Despite your suffering you are still begrudging overseas aid, which goes to people who can't travel to a hospital because there is no hospital, who would love to be able to move house for their convenience like you did, in fact they'd love a house. You also voted for a government that has always favoured the wealthy so you can't complain about that now. However, despite your suffering, you have said that you won't vote tory while you are in this situation, which presumably means that if your benefits are reinstated you'll be happy to vote tory again. This means you have learned nothing. Let's just hope that the consequences of your vote don't continue to backfire on you as the NHS that has been looking after you crumbles away. Perhaps you should take a little time to reflect on how your vote affected the young, the disabled and the sick that you didn't care about before you too became a tory policy victim.

    Report this comment

    Anne Llewellyn

    Saturday, April 16, 2016

  • Well we tried to warn you. . But that was all 'scaremongering' well now you know it's all real. . But it's a bit late now isn't it? She'll probably go vote ukip now or something... nobody learns.

    Report this comment

    Lisa Mason

    Saturday, April 16, 2016

  • I think that Karen P hit the nail on the head. You reap what you sow I'm afraid. When you stood in the ballot box and put your cross next to David Cameron's name you chose to do this to yourself and thousands of others. I can feel for you on a personal level and wholeheartedly believe that the state should support you well to help you live in a way that keeps you comfortable and able to spend that quality time with your family that is so important for them as well as you. But then I'm a socialist and we believe in things like that.

    Report this comment

    Alex Rattenbury

    Saturday, April 16, 2016

  • I guess this lady didn't think that as a Lifelong Conservative supporter that she would be targeted personally and lose her DLAPIP - that only happens to others right? Why not think about the thousands of others who have been unfairly hit by the Bedroom Tax, or the harsh sanction regimes, or those who have lost their homes due to their own benefits being slashed, or the severely disabled who have had their ILF support packages ended and in some cases withdrawn. Why not a thought about those who have lost their lives due to the Tory idealogical attacks on benefits and continue to die today. They will never be able to claim a penny of their pensions now. Not a mention about all those now losing considerable sums due to being transferred onto Universal Credit, or the £30 a week cut all those on ESA WRAG are about to face. Well yeah, I am sorry you have been targeted and have a loss of £80 a week, I honestly hope that your local hospital treating you doesn't close, due to the Tory attack on the NHS, and that you then have to travel unreasonable distances to get treatment for your cancer, if any is still available and you can afford it once privatised as pre-existing conditions not covered - sorry But I guess my real message to you is this, suck it up buttercup, you voted for them, now you are facing the real cost of doing so, exactly the same as the rest of us are having to. Its a tough life I guess

    Report this comment

    Karen.P

    Saturday, April 16, 2016

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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