Sally Blackman says she has had to use credit cards to buy food since changes to her disability
A cancer survivor left with crippling disabilities and chronic pain after life saving treatment says she can no longer afford food after her benefits were slashed.
Sally was diagnosed with a rare uterine carcinoma in December 2016 and underwent months of gruelling radiotherapy and chemotherapy that wrecked her nervous system, left her in constant pain and reliant on opioid drugs including morphine.
But now the 50-year-old says she can barely afford food and feels like a prisoner in her Cambridge flat after having her benefits cut by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP). Sally said: “Mentally I felt like I was going insane. I’m just in the flat all the time crying. “I want to go out but I can’t get out, so I’m trapped in here just like a prison.”
Sally’s Personal Independence Payment (PIP), which replaced the Disability Living Allowance, has been slashed by £100 a month. Sally says she has been forced into debt to buy basics like bread and milk. Sally said: “Some weeks we don’t have money for food, honestly it’s that bad. “I’ve had to max out credit cards, I’ve had to use credit cards to get food.”
She added: “I think this is the poorest I’ve been, because of them [DWP] there’s no milk in the fridge. “I can’t even buy a loaf of bread because there’s no money.” “£100 is like £1,000 to to me. I could manage with that. It would still be tough but a better quality of life.”
The DWP said all of its decisions are made following a collation of information from multiple sources. A DWP spokesperson said: “Decisions for PIP are made following consideration of all the information provided by the claimant, including supporting evidence from their GP or medical specialist.
“Anyone that disagrees with a decision can appeal.” And don’t they have to! 68% are winning their appeals!
But for Sally, the decision is unfair. She says she and her partner – who gave up her job to become Sally’s carer – have been left “crippled”. Sally, who relies on opioid drugs like morphine to manage her pain, says the benefits cut is also making it nearly impossible to run her disability car which she relies on to make it to hospital appointments at Addenbrooke’s.
She said: “I feel like no-one cares if you’re disabled, you’re not given any help.”
Sally, who has had 179 hospital appointments in the last two years, says the anxiety over money worries has also worsened her fears over the rare cancer returning. She said: “If my cancer come back I’ll only have 12 months to live. “They’ve said they can’t treat it again, there is no cure.
“I’m going through a struggle, I was suicidal a few months ago because I’m petrified of the cancer coming back, there are days I just melt down.” Sally also said the financial worries were making her depression worsen. “Last month I didn’t want to be here,” she added. Without her partner of four years Sally says she may not have managed to cope with the growing financial strain and anxiety. “I wouldn’t have got through the cancer to be quite honest,” she added. “She gave up everything, her home, her job. She never moans.”