A West Kilbride mum was stunned to be told by benefits staff that people who come out of prison were ‘more vulnerable than her son’, who has a severe form of cerebral palsy.
Angela Brown of Gateside Street has received child tax credits for her son who has now turned 18, and so had to apply for ESA – employment and support allowance – as he became an adult.
Connor requires round the clock care from his mother, and since turning 18, has become his legal guardian. However, the Department of Work and Pensions lost the original application last August, and the matter wasn’t resolved until February.
Due to the lack of payments coming in, Angela, who is a single mum, had to cancel her phone, and had to put energy bill payment on hold, and was finding it very hard to make ends meet, saying it was a ‘horrendous’ period.
And upon pursing the matter, Angela said: “The lady told me that there are other people out there more vulnerable than my son, such as people coming out of prison.
It completely broke me that day – it was really a kick in the teeth.” Connor is immobile, and is fed with a tube into his stomach, and has non-verbal communication, He turns 19 at the end of the month. Angela said: “It took until April for the matter to be resolved, but can anyone explain to me why my son, who has cerebral palsy, sitting in a living room, is considered less vulnerable that someone coming out of prison.”
Angela took the matter up with MP Patricia Gibson’s secretary and found out that the DWP had lost the application form. She also spoke to West Kilbride councillor Todd Ferguson who sought assistance from MSP Jamie Greene on the matter.
Angela said: “Connor went to the James McFarlane School in Ardrossan, and I wouldn’t want others to go through the same thing I went through. It is stressful enough with any disabled person but to leave you hanging on for eight months and it was their fault.”
“I have been put through the grinder, I eve had to repeated sick lines from Connor’s GP – which even he found ridiculous.
It kind of pushed us to the limit with a lot of bills unpaid, so I had to cut the phone off, electricity was another nightmare as Connor requires a lot of medical equipment. But to be told by the benefits agency that Connor was not as vulnerable as people leaving prison is what angered me most. It was totally unacceptable.”
“They admitted to losing the form and still made us claim again, and these forms are a nightmare, and given Connor was going to a new day centre, as well as sorting out the money issue, it was a very stressful period.”
A DWP spokesman said: “We have apologised to Ms Brown for the delay, and her son’s
higher rate of ESA entitlement has been backdated in full.”