‘We’re at the lowest of the low. Nobody knows where to turn’
A bed-ridden stroke victim was told to use food banks after an administrative error left him and his wife facing extreme poverty.
Alan Buchanan, 65, has been bed bound after suffering several major seizures since he had his first stroke 15 years ago, and the once successful businessman is now entirely dependent on his wife Heather and the occasional visits of carers.
The couple, from the small Scottish town of Callander, near Loch Lomond, said they now fear homelessness after their benefits were stopped because of an administrative error.
Earlier this year, Ms Buchanan said an inspector from Atos — a company contracted to provide independent assessments on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) — arrived two hours early for an assessment with Mr Buchanan, despite her phoning and specifically telling them not to arrive before 11am.
“A lady came to the house at about nine in the morning. She said she was from Atos. I explained to her that I had asked for an appointment at 11am, because Alan’s carers are here before that,” Ms Buchanan told The Independent.
“I did ask her if she’d like to come in, basically to show her that he was there, in his bed. She could see his wheelchair and everything else sitting about because we live in a very small flat. She said ‘no it’s alright, we’ll reschedule’. Then she went away.”
But Ms Buchanan said the inspector never called to rearrange the appointment and two weeks later, a letter from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) arrived, cancelling Mr Buchanan’s benefits.
It said they would be getting nothing in their PIP, because they hadn’t provided “a good enough reason” for Mr Buchanan, who cannot get dressed or go to the toilet independently, “not attending” to the assessment.
Three days later, Ms Buchanan received another letter from the DWP saying her husband’s Attendance Allowance, designed to help with personal care for disabled people aged 65 or over, would also be stopping.