Blind, severely autistic teenager ordered to be reassessed for benefit he was promised for life

A TEENAGER who is blind, severely autistic and barely able to speak has been ordered to attend a meeting – to check if he should continue to receive benefits.

Private firms pocket more than £500m from hated disability benefit assessments

Two private firms responsible for carrying out disability benefit assessments on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) have pocketed more than half a BILLION pounds of taxpayers cash, despite thousands of “inaccurate assessments” being later overturned in favour of claimants.

Data collected by The Mirror reveals Atos and Capita have made more than £500m from Personal Independence Payment assessments, since the new disability benefit was introduced to replace Disability Living Allowance in 2013.

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Rhiannon, 14, cares for her dad. Now cuts have made life even harder

Disabled Andy relies on his daughter to cook and shop, but his benefits have been slashed, and it’s pushing the two of them closer to the edge

Fourteen-year-old Rhiannon Doolan’s favourite lesson is PE, and she wants to work in sport when she’s older. But, unlike most children going back to school this week, she is already doing a full-time job: caring for her disabled dad, Andy.

In their two-bed council flat in Liverpool, Rhiannon keeps things as clean as she can: she hoovers, mops, does the dishes, and polishes. It’s been just the two of them for years – “since Rhiannon was in nappies”, Andy says – and she’s got used to doing whatever they need. Or, as Rhiannon puts it quietly to me, “things my dad would like to do but can’t.”

For Andy, 48, that’s a lot. Twenty years ago, he had a double hip replacement and caught MRSA in both legs. He’s had almost 25 operations since, and he can barely walk, then only with crutches. The crutches have brought their own problems – arthritis in his joints – and he can’t straighten his arms; he can barely move his wrists. “I’m useless without her,” he says.

Rhiannon was three years old when she started caring for her dad. “I’d help put his socks and shoes on when I was a toddler. Put cream on his legs [as medicine],” she says. By four, she was helping with shopping, pushing the trolley in the supermarket while her dad stood behind with his crutches. Outside help never came – the council went as far as putting grab-rails near the toilet, but no further. As she got bigger, and her dad’s health got worse, Rhiannon took on more.

“I do breakfasts,” she tells me. Cereal in the week and egg, sausage and bacon on toast at the weekend. For “a big meal” – Rhiannon likes mince and chips best – they cook together. “He struggles but he tries,” she says.

To help him with his medication, Rhiannon puts her dad’s prescription together and then collects it from the pharmacy down the road from the estate. Each day, she helps him get dressed and reach his feet when he washes. There’s no shower in the flat – just a bath with a shower head – and Andy stands in the bath with Rhiannon leaning over the side. “I’m proud of her,” Andy says, pausing. “But she should be out playing. She shouldn’t have to be doing any of this.”

It’s a tough way of life, and one that has just been made even harder. Since before Rhiannon was born, it’s been Andy’s two disability benefits that have paid the bills: disability living allowance (DLA), and because he’s too disabled to work, incapacity benefit (IB). But now – as both benefits are abolished nationally and tougher tests put in their place – Rhiannon has had to watch as her dad’s only support is being taken away.

The first hit came last June, when Andy – put through the “fit for work” test – was, in Rhiannon’s words, given “no points whatsoever”. He promptly had his benefit cut to £46 a week. By the time he could appeal against the decision six months later, he and Rhiannon were living off food hampers they had been given by a charity.

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‘I’ve had a heart attack, two strokes and my kidneys are failing…but I’ve still been told I’m fit to work’

Former scientist Phil Williams from Caernarfon said he was devastated to find out he’ll be stripped of his disability benefits after a recent Government assessment

A former scientist who has to undergo 12 hours of dialysis treatment a week because his kidneys are failing has been told he is fit to work.

Philip Williams, 56, from Caernarfon has been plagued by health problems in recent years including kidney failure, loss of hearing and ulcerative colitis – which brings on bouts of extreme diarrhoea and vomiting.

He received a letter from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) on Monday saying that his Disability Living Allowance will be stopped next month after a recent medical assessment deemed him ineligible for benefits.

A nurse visited Mr Williams around six weeks ago to carry out an assessment using a points system to determine whether or not he is able to cope around the house alone.

But Mr Williams now feels that the nurse was “unqualified to carry out the assessment” due to her lack of experience in his particular illness.

Mr Williams said that he feels “disgusted” by their decision and claims that DWP made no attempt to contact his GP or renal consultant about his illnesses.

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Aaron Lane: Talented musician with mental health problems took his own life after DWP ruled him fit to work

Aaron took his own life after he lost his Disability Living Allowance – his parents believe he was worried his benefits would be stopped entirely

A talented musician battling mental health problems took his own life after he was ruled fit to work.

Aaron Lane, who won a place at the prestigious Royal Academy of Music in London in his 20s, suffered psychosis and had been receiving Disability Living Allowance.

But he was recently ruled fit to work under the Tory Government’s crippling benefits changes.

Instead Aaron, who lived alone in a flat, was surviving on Jobseeker’s Allowance.

His parents say he feared he would lose all of his benefits and be left penniless.

After they raised concerns, police forced entry to his home in Newark, Lincs, and found him dead aged 31.

It is understood he had taken his own life.

Aaron’s dad Steve and mum Carol are calling for more detailed checks to be carried out on people with mental health problems before benefits are stopped or changed.

“He used to say every single day that no one would employ him,” said Carol. “He was in his own world yet there was a whole world out there waiting for him. He never gave us any indication of what he was about to do. We will remember Aaron as a happy child. We never had any trouble with him growing up. He never asked for anything. He took what life gave him.”

Steve added: “We believe he took his own life because things were getting on top of him.

“That little bit of extra money allowed him to have the internet at home which brought the world to him. His world was getting smaller and smaller. He was worried that all of his money would be stopped. We don’t blame anyone but Aaron was let down across the system. He was too often a box to tick.

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A family has won its legal bid to challenge limits on welfare payments to severely disabled children in hospital.

Cameron Mathieson’s family wins Supreme Court case against DWP

A family has won its legal bid to challenge limits on welfare payments to severely disabled children in hospital.

Benefits for Cameron Mathieson, five, stopped after he spent more than 12 weeks in Alder Hey Hospital, Liverpool.

Supreme Court judges agreed the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) had been “grossly unfair” when it stopped his payments after 84 days.

His family said they had continued the fight over Disability Living Allowance (DLA) “on behalf of other families”.

Cameron, from Warrington, Cheshire, died in 2012 after suffering from cystic fibrosis and Duchenne muscular dystrophy, among other conditions.

‘Significant victory’

Speaking after the ruling, his father Craig said: “This decision is a fantastic legacy for Cameron. Cameron adored people and he would have been delighted to know that because of him, other vulnerable children and their families will not have to endure the same financial hardships we had to contend with while he was in hospital.”

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Boy battling leukaemia fed by foodbanks after Department for Work and Pensions axed his benefits

The family of a seven-year-old boy battling leukaemia have been forced to use foodbanks after their benefits were axed.

Tommi Miller’s parents received £700 a month to help look after him until he was given the all-clear last April. But when the cancer returned in a more virulent form, Ruth, 39 and Kevin, 42, stopped work to care for their son.

They hoped the Department for Work and Pensions would restart the payments. But officials said No.

With no income for six months, the family have relied on foodbanks to eat. They have struggled to pay gas bills, been threatened with eviction and could only celebrate Christmas after friends raised £1,200. One of Tommi’s consultants at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, also gave them £600 in supermarket vouchers so they could survive winter.

Mum-of-four Ruth said: “Everything we have is spent on the kids – me and Kevin are happy to go hungry. They should have a heart and realise our priorities are not rent and council tax. Every single thought is focused on our child. Kevin added: “What they are doing to us is inhuman – this is a young boy who is suffering.”


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