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The worst aspect of this is that there probably isn’t a connection.
Gail Ward caused serious embarrassment to the Department for Work and Pensions in 2018 when in response to a Freedom of Information request, the government department had to admit 111,000 people had died while claiming Employment and Support Allowance.
Then Ms Ward, 63, was told by the same organisation that she didn’t qualify for Personal Independence Payments.
For clarity, she has Prinzmetal’s angina, a rare form of angina where attacks can occur even when resting. The rare heart condition means she can collapse at any moment.
It can cause arteries in the heart to spasm during times of stress or cold weather, which severely limits a person’s independence and can also be life-threatening.
She also has arthritis and hip dysplasia.
Ms Ward had been claiming Disability Living Allowance but, after she was ordered to attend a mandatory reassessment for PIP, she was told that her benefits would stop because she failed to meet the qualifying criteria.
How many times have we heard that before?
Look at her condition again. Of course she met the qualifying criteria. The DWP just wanted to cause her a bit of additional stress, and see if it aggravates her condition enough to kill her.
And if that happened, the people responsible would probably have had the nerve to say, at least she won’t be added to the death figures she uncovered, because she was claiming PIP, not ESA.
The cancellation of her benefit payments meant Ms Ward was unable to pay her bills and ended up in debt.
She was also stripped of her mobility car – which is common behaviour for the DWP.
It took her 15 months to get an appeal to the tribunal stage.
Now here’s the payoff: despite being unable to attend on the day, having been taken ill that morning, the tribunal still found in Ms Ward’s favour and awarded her the full amount of PIP.
Now she has criticised the assessment process and demanded answers about the way decisions are made.
Of course, we all know why the DWP’s assessors do what they do.
But with her record, Gail Ward might just be able to force them to confess it.