Heart attack victim denied Universal Credit despite doctor’s note

Jeremy Corfield, 49, from Quinton, had collapsed on car park with heart attack

A heart attack victim was denied Universal Credit until officials performed a U-turn after BirminghamLive took up his case. Jeremy Corfield, 49, from Quinton, had a doctor’s note saying he was unfit to work after collapsing on his rounds as a car park enforcement officer.

He spent three days in hospital after suffering the heart attack on December 13 and was subsequently diagnosed with lifelong angina. But Jeremy was told he would not be able to claim the payments – until the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) changed its mind after BirminghamLive queried his case.

But he still believes the phased introduction of Universal Credit, which has been scaled back by the government, is a disaster. Jeremy said: “I think Universal Credit is a terrible idea, it’s wrecked people’s lives.

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“Other people who might not be able or willing to fight mistakes like this will be going through severe hardship. “People are putting whatever they can towards rent but they are still getting evicted. It’s happened to a few people I know. “They can’t cover their bills.”

Jeremy had been told that he would not be able to resume monthly Universal Credit payments, which he previously claimed after a spell unemployed until they were reduced to zero against his earnings once he started working. As he is self-employed, he does not receive sick pay and while he lives in a Birmingham City Council flat, he pays rent and council tax.

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The day he was released from City Hospital he went to an appointment at Selly Oak Jobcentre Plus, where he was told the payments would not be resumed until February as he was still being assessed against his earnings.

But he was later told he would be receiving an advance payment and housing support. Jeremy said: “They phoned me and said sorry to hear what happened. “I said, it shouldn’t have come to this’. “They are going to give me an advance, which I have to pay back. “I feel a bit better but it should never have happened in the first place.”

Jeremy’s advance payment will be £317 and he will also receive financial support for his housing. He hopes to go back to work at the end of the month. The Birmingham City fan also spoke about the heart attack, which led to him needing a stent to open the arteries in his heart in an emergency operation at City Hospital.

He now has a mouth spray to treat angina, which causes chest pain through reduced blood flow to the heart muscles. Reliving the heart attack, Jeremy said: “I was doing a car park and I started getting pain in my chest, the pain was getting worse and I couldn’t breath properly.

“I went into my van and looked in the mirror, I was sweating. I phoned Jenny, my partner, and told her I couldn’t breath properly. “She told me to put the phone down and phone the ambulance so I did. They took me to Dudley Road and I had the operation straight away.”

The next phase of the Universal Credit roll-out nationally has been scaled back amid an outcry over flaws in the system, in which Birmingham’s Labour MPs have been particularly vocal, putting together a dossier of evidence to back their case.

A DWP spokesman said: “Mr Corfield wasn’t eligible for Universal Credit initially because of wages he received from previous employment. “We have apologised for not making this clearer at the time and to support him with his claim.”

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