A boy born with half a heart had benefits used to help provide him essential 24-hour care taken away on his birthday.
Ben Gamble, who attends Whitley Primary School, was born without a left ventricle meaning his heart only has one pump instead of two – making it difficult for blood to be pumped around his body.
He has undergone five heart operations, has been resuscitated twice, and will need a transplant if he is to reach adulthood. The youngster, who refers to his chest scars as his ‘zip’, also faces his next operation around Christmas time.
His conditions severely limits his ability to undertake physical activity, such as playing with friends, and he can’t even take on the 500-metre walk to school from his house without having to stop to rest. Once at school, his ability to concentrate is affected by restricted blood flow to his brain and he struggles to stay there for the whole day.
But government officials at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) have taken away a large part of his disability allowance after concluding that the fact he can walk 50 metres at a normal pace means his condition is not as severe as previously assessed.
The callous nature of the benefits cut was compounded by the fact the letter arrived on Ben’s birthday and referred to him as “James”.
The decision to withdraw the disability allowance has had a knock on effect on other support payments, including some from Coventry City Council.
Ben’s family now faces a monthly income shortfall of more than £700.