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Couple’s despair at welfare payment delays

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: November 15, 2013

Mark and Gillian Chadbourne.

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A DESPAIRING husband has claimed he lost the family home and is reliant on food parcels because his sick wife is yet to receive welfare payments – five months after she applied.

Mark and Gillian Chadbourne told the Mail they had sold clothes to boost their £440 monthly income after the delay left the couple ‘no longer living, simply existing’.

Mrs Chadbourne, 45, applied for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) in June after she suffered a stroke in May.

But she said she was yet to receive a penny, despite attending a face-to-face assessment in September.

The couple, of Sycamore Road, Stapenhill, survive on Mr Chadbourne’s £100 monthly income support and his wife’s £340 statuary sick pay, which they said was swiftly consumed by rent and council tax payments.

Mr Chadbourne, 47, who worked for 30 years in retail, said he was unable to claim carer’s allowance until his wife’s PIP payments were given the green light.

He said: “The end result is that we are no longer living, simply existing.

“Last week we had no milk, no bread, not even a toilet roll. We literally had nothing at all.”

Mr Chadbourne said they had to rely on food parcels from the Salvation Army and friends and family to help pay bills.

The pair were forced to move home in October but are still without a cooker, which means Mr Chadbourne cannot prepare the right foods to help his wife recover.

He said: “It is making her condition worse.

“I can’t look for work because I need to look after my wife day and night, so we are stuck in this vicious cycle.

“From my point of view the welfare changes are simply hurting those who need help the most.”

A spokesman from the Government’s Department for Work and Pensions said the assessment process for PIP would take longer than expected. It will then be introduced in phases.

He said: “Disabled people would value the fact that we are taking the time to get this right.”

TO add the couple’s dismay and confusion, Mark and Gillian Chadbourne have also received four separate council tax bills – without explanation.

The couple told the Mail they received three bills from East Staffordshire Borough Council for their current home and another for their previous one in Belvedere Road.

Mr Chadbourne said he had queried the bills with the borough council, but it has not yet been verified what is owed.

He said: “I haven’t got a car, we haven’t got a cooker and it costs us £5 to get into town.

“Gillian can’t go because she’s not stable on her feet.

“We can’t leave the house because we can’t afford to go anywhere.

“The council has said it will sort it out, but we keep getting different bills for different amounts. We just don’t understand it.”

A spokesman from the borough council said it was ‘not uncommon’ for some residents to receive more than one council tax bill if there had been changes to their entitlement to benefits.

The spokesman said: “While we do not comment on individual cases, we respond to all queries when council tax payers contact us.

“If someone is unsure about whether the council tax bills they have received are correct when they are receiving help with their payments, we advise them to contact us by telephone on 01283 508422, by visiting our customer service centres in Burton or Uttoxeter or by emailing at benefits@eaststaffsbc.gov.uk.”

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