Severely disabled West Cumbrian woman told to prove she’s unfit for work
By Federica Bedendo
A West Cumbrian woman who has been severely disabled for 24 years has been told she needs to prove she is unfit to work due to Government benefit changes.
Vicky Rogerson-Wright and carer Andrea Donald
Vicky Rogerson-Wright, 44, of Hunday Court, Workington, has stage four multiple sclerosis – the most serious form of the condition.
She receives 24-hour care as she is wheelchair-bound, partially sighted and can only move one hand.
But, after a change in her wife Stephanie’s working hours prompted her transfer to Universal Credit, Mrs Rogerson-Wright has been asked to prove new evidence she is unfit to work.
A spokesman for the Department For Work and Pensions said it was part of a work capability assessment to determine her continued entitlement to benefits.
But Mrs Rogerson-Wright said: “This is taking away my dignity. I haven’t been able to work for 24 years but I’d love to work, it’s really upsetting.
“I’m desperately trying to say that I really can’t work.
“I know there are people in the same situation as me, some more disabled. This has just knocked me right back.”
Her entitlement is still being reassessed, meaning the amount she receives could change. In the meantime, she has seen her benefits drop.
Confusion over the fact her rent would no longer be paid directly on her behalf also led to her receiving an eviction notice, adding to her worries.
That has now been resolved but Mrs Rogerson-Wright remains concerned about the situation.
She said: “I’m absolutely devastated. I don’t know how I’m going to manage.
“I have to pay for the rent and my bills. My electricity bills are quite expensive because I have two hoists and a wheelchair which need to be constantly on charge.”
Andrea Donald, who has been caring for her for eight years, said: “All this stress is affecting Vicky, physically and mentally.
“It’s exacerbating her illness. She’s not the happy Vicky that we know. She doesn’t want to go out anymore.
“We’re being sent from pillar to post and all we seem to do is fill in form after form.
“I don’t think Vicky is getting the benefits that she is entitled to.”
Mrs Rogerson-Wright is due to meet Workington MP Sue Hayman soon and her consultant neurologist, MS specialist nurse and clinical psychologist have already written to the MP in support of her claim.
A spokeswoman for the Department for Work and Pensions said Workington Jobcentre staff were doing everything they could to support Mrs Rogerson-Wright.
She said Universal Credit was simplifying the system and tailoring it more to individuals’ needs, with trained jobcentre staff available to support and advise claimants.
She added: “We are committed to ensuring there is work for those who can, help for those that could and support for those that can’t, and assessments are an important part of ensuring that people get the right level of support.”