45-year-old teacher battles for Universal Credit support after leaving job to get treatment
Gillian Sykes, a mum-of-two diagnosed with breast cancer in January, was left with 84p after leaving her job as a supply teacher and attempting to access Universal Credit, the Daily Record has reported.
Ms Sykes, who is preparing for a double mastectomy operation in the summer, described her situation as a ‘fight for survival' with the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), a plight which has involved money being taken away by the authorities due to mistaken dates and an ‘automated response' telling her that she needs to be looking for work in order to claim.
She was not initially told she qualified for Limited Capacity for Work Related Activity benefit payments, and after realising she was eligible spent weeks fighting to get hold of the extra cash.
"I'm having battles left, right and centre with Universal Credit - and issues with not being told what I can and can't claim," she told the Daily Record. "I've had more support from Macmillan nurses than the government."
She also told the Liverpool Echo that she was made to take bank statements into the job centre just two days after her first bout of chemotherapy. "I've had statutory sick pay penalised - I complained and complained," she said. "I spoke to a different person on the phone every time"
"Every day I speak to advisers about the lack of appropriate workplace protection for agency/contractor staff, I speak about the difficulty clients will face when accessing support through Universal Credit, I speak about the fact that cancer does happen and finally I speak about the value of having a financial safety net in place," said Ally Moncrieff, telephone account manager (protection) for Scottish Widows Protect.
"Imagine that woman had an appropriate protection in place that she could have used to pay off her mortgage and then used a nurse service (like RedArc) to deal with the devastation her and her family are facing," he added. "Lots of work for everyone in the industry to do to ensure these horror stories become a thing of the past."
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