HUNDREDS of disabled residents have been left out of pocket after having their benefits cut, according to new figures.
Around 600 people in Warrington have had their benefits stopped during the Department for Work and Pension’s changeover to the new personal independence payments system from the previous disability living allowance.
In Warrington North, 400 disabled people who received DLA had their benefits stopped when they reapplied for the new scheme between April 2013 and October last year – 24 per cent of the total previous claimants.
Meanwhile, 200 residents in Warrington South also had their benefits stopped during the same period – accounting for 14 per cent of people who claimed DLA.
Warrington Disability Partnership chief executive and co-founder Dave Thompson described going through the PIP assessment process as a ‘horrendous’ experience.
He said: “All the way through the process they’re asking questions which feel as though they’re trying to trick you and catch you out.
“You have to explain things to them three or four times – in the end you get very frustrated and it’s very embarrassing, because you’re having to explain some really personal details.
“It was horrible, and you come out of the assessment feeling extremely anxious and frustrating.
“I don’t have mental health problems, but you can only imagine the traumatic experience it would be if you had a learning disability or anxiety.”
A review last year revealed that 65 per cent of people who challenged the DWP’s decisions to cut their benefits successfully had them overturned.
Dave added: “I think that the traumatic experience of that initial face-to-face assessment puts a lot of people off from making an appeal.
“Then the appeals are actually heard in tribunal rooms in courts of law, and people are made to feel as if they are criminals.
“They’re left absolutely battered and bruised emotionally because of the experience.
“Charities like ourselves then end up picking up the pieces – we get enquiries about PIP every day.
“People should appeal, and I would advise anyone who is going through the appeals process to be prepared – there is support out there, and they can come to us and other charities for help.”