Honiton couple stung by benefits changes

PUBLISHED: 12:00 25 June 2015 | UPDATED: 12:32 25 June 2015

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Nigel and Tina Say told the Herald they have been struck with 'financial hardship' after Tina's Disability Living Allowance (DLA) was switched over to Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

A Honiton couple have had to live the last month on pennies after a change to their benefits left them struggling to pay their bills.

Nigel and Tina Say, of St Leonard’s Road, say they have been struck with ‘financial hardship’ after Tina’s Disability Living Allowance (DLA) was switched over to Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

Mrs Say, 53, suffers from back and hip joint problems and osteoarthritis, meaning she requires round the clock care from her husband.

She says her PIP payments are now being paid a month in arrears, meaning she has been left with no money in the last fortnight.

The couple fear that in the future, when they receive their next payment, the majority of it will have to be spent catching up on unpaid bills left from the month before.

But a spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions says that PIP should not be confused with other income-replacement benefits.

The spokesman said: “Mrs Say receives the same amount of money now under PIP as she did when claiming DLA.

“PIP helps with some of the extra, every-day costs caused by long-term ill-health or a disability and is paid regardless of whether a claimant is in or out of work. It should not be confused with other income-replacement benefits.”

Mrs Say says she is not looking for pity or handouts – simply to get the message across that the benefits change will affect disabled people.

“We are not whinging,” the former care worker said. “We do not want pity – we want to bring awareness to others as it is going to put them in financial hardship - the benefits you are given are enough to live on.

“We can only imagine the Government has made this change to save money.”

Such is the severity of their situation, the couple have resorted to taking handouts from Honiton’s food bank, and borrowing money from friends to get by.

And the lack of money means Mrs Say is unable to buy vital supplies to help ease her joint pain.

“The fact is we have got to go four weeks without this allowance, and it’s wrong,” said Mr Say.

“Every benefit you get is needed more weekly than it is monthly. Every day you still have to buy food and electricity.

“If your electric runs out, then what? It’s the everyday bills that need paying.”

Mrs Say is in the process of setting up a campaign against the disability allowance changes.

She has created a Facebook page called ‘Government stop picking on the disabled’ – and is welcoming people join it to get in touch and share their troubles.

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