Family of Wigan grandmother with incurable condition stunned after government axes her benefit

When Patricia Latham tried to increase her benefits so she could get a vital mobility scooter little did she realise the heartache it would cause.

Friday, 7th June 2019, 2:13 pm
Updated Friday, 7th June 2019, 3:13 pm
Patricia Latham with daughter Stacey Boylan

The 58-year-old grandmother has an incurable genetic condition which makes it difficult for her to leave her home in Scholes.

Other news: Armed robber who stabbed police officer in Wigan has jail sentence increasedSo her daughter Stacey Boylan, who lives in Ince, asked the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) whether she would be eligible for the higher rate of PIP and therefore be able to get a mobility scooter.

But, after an assessment, the pair were stunned to be told that rather than receiving more support, her entire PIP allowance was to be scrapped.

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Her daughter immediately challenged the decision and submitted medical evidence.

However, it was only after the Wigan Observer intervened that the DWP looked at the appeal and reinstated her original payments – but did not increase them to allow her to get a scooter.

A DWP spokesman said: “We want people with a health condition to receive the full support they are entitled to and Ms Latham’s PIP has been reinstated after additional information about her condition was provided.

“Assessments work well for the majority of people, but one person’s poor experience is one too many and we’re committed to continuously improving the quality of assessments.”

Ms Latham has CADASIL, a serious illness which affects the blood vessels and means she has had up to 20 transient ischaemic attacks (TIAs), also known as “mini strokes”.

She suffers from migraines, muscle weakness, slurred speech, severe depression and vertigo.

She received the lower rate of personal independence payment (PIP) to help cover costs associated with the illness.

Unfortunately, her health has deteriorated in recent years.

Mrs Boylan, 31, said: “My mum really feels she needs the higher rate. She can’t get out much because she can’t walk far. That was the main issue for me wanting the reassessment.”

Ms Latham was born with the condition but it was only diagnosed around 12 years ago, shortly before the death of her father, who also had it.

The mother-of-three had her first TIA when Mrs Boylan was born and has since had 15 to 20 in total.

Doctors initially linked them to migraines - another symptom of CADASIL - before she was finally diagnosed.

Her health has deteriorated over the past few years, leading to her leaving her job in administration at Leigh Infirmary.

Mrs Boylan said: “Now she constantly shakes and when you speak to her, you can see her processing the question before she will respond. She has a delayed response time.

“Especially on her bad days, she will seem like she is really slurring her words. She will sound like she is drunk but she isn’t.

“Sometimes she will have good days but even then you can still tell she is unwell.”

The TIAs and CADASIL have affected Ms Latham in many ways, including muscle weakness, severe depression and personality changes.

Her family believes she is also showing the early signs of dementia, which is associated with CADASIL.

Mrs Boylan says her mother does not go out much now, other than to a club on a Sunday afternoon with her partner and a small group of friends.

She said: “She used to love going into the town centre. She only lives a short distance away. She will go to the bottom of the street and her legs will hurt her. She really struggles to walk anywhere.”

While Ms Latham can still drive, her lack of mobility is a real issue and her daughter hoped a scooter would allow her to retain her independence.

The DWP spokesperson said: "People who are unhappy with the decision made about their PIP claim can appeal to an independent tribunal.”