Leader and MP thanked by Wrexham woman for helping in benefits fight

Karen RichardsA woman with breast cancer and a rare genetic condition who faced a benefits cut has thanked the Leader and her MP for helping to overturn the decision.

Karen Richards, 61, of Hill Street in Cefn Mawr, Wrexham, received a letter saying her mobility allowance was being cut from £57.45 a week to £21.80, despite not being visited for an assessment.
But hours after the Leader contacted the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to find out why, she has now been told the cut will not now be made.

“I feel as if a tonne weight has been lifted off me. I can’t believe it,” she said

“They’re leaving me alone, thank God they’re leaving me alone.”

Miss Richards said the DWP had told her the benefits would remain at the higher rate after ‘reviewing the evidence’.

Miss Richards, who is in constant pain as a result of fibrodysplasia – which causes the body’s skeletal muscles and soft connective tissues to transform into bone – says her mobility has worsened recently as she can only to walk as far as her front gate and has had to install a stairlift in her home.

The original decision was made as the UK Government replaced the Disability Living Allowance (DLA) with the Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

Miss Richards said her GP had put her on extra medication because she could not cope with the stress she was under in the 12 days between receiving the letter and the decision being overturned.

Miss Richards was diagnosed with fribodysplasia at the age of 14 and had to give up her job at Securicor aged 21 because of the condition.

The condition progressively locks joints in place and makes movement difficult, and in some cases impossible.

She said that endures pain ‘24/7’ all over her body and has to sleep on her sofa since she her cancer diagnosis as she cannot get into her bed

Miss Richards was diagnosed with breast cancer last year and underwent chemotherapy at Wrexham Maelor Hospital before having a course of radiotherapy at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd in Bodelwyddan.

After completing her treatment in November, she will find our at hospital appointments this week and in a fortnight how how successful the therapy has been.

Her 81-year-old mother Margaret does her cleaning, cooking and helps her dress.

“I couldn’t live without her. She does a lot for me,” Miss Richards added.

She said the disability living component of her benefits payments would remain at £82.30 a week, but said the mobility cut would have meant she would have to pay car tax and she was unsure whether she would have been able to use a blue badge.

Miss Richards added that the money enabled her to get a taxi if she was too ill to drive.

On the same day that the Leader contacted the DWP, Miss Richards also received a latter from Susan Elan Jones saying that the MP had made a formal complaint on her behalf.

Miss Richards said: “I’m so relieved that they’re going to leave me alone. I’m going to get on with my life as best as I can.

“I think, between the Leader and Susan Elan Jones, you have swung it for me, so thank you so much.”

A DWP spokesman said: “Decisions on eligibility for Personal Independence Payment are made after consideration of all the evidence, including an assessment and information provided by the claimant and their GP.

“People are entitled to ask for a review of their benefit decision.”