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62 year-old woman forced to give up her home after missing a benefits meeting

A 62-year-old woman claims she’s been forced to leave her home after the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) docked her benefits for turning up late for a meeting.

Faith Hurford, from Hillesley near Stroud, who suffers with a range of medical conditions that haven’t been disclosed, says the benefit sanction means she is unable to afford the rent and has to move away from her home because of the DWP’s cruel decision.

The Stroud News and Journal reports that in spite of her health problems, Faith had to travel a staggering 15 miles (one way) to attend a meeting about her Universal Credit claim in Stroud.

Due to heat, the sheer distance she had to cycle, as well as her chronic health issues, Faith was forced to stop and take a break at a Sainbury’s store to recover her energy, before continuing the arduous journey.

This meant that Faith turned up late for the appointment and was subsequently sanctioned for failing to turn up for the meeting on time.

Faith described the sanction as “unlawful” and tried to appeal the harsh ruling, but the loss of benefit meant she could no longer afford the rent and has to move away to Nailsworth.

“I had been a supporter of Universal Credit before – it helps you look for work and it’s simpler to use – but that sanction was unlawful.

“By the time I got to Sainsbury’s after hours of cycling I couldn’t go any further, I was completely dazed.”

Benefit sanctions have been blamed for pushing the poor to foodbanks.

She tried to explain the reason for her lateness but her reasonable appeals fell on deaf ears.

Faith says the sanction has cost her nearly £200 in lost benefit payments.

She said: “You need to take a person’s circumstances into account. The effort I went to was not recognised in any shape or form.”

“I can’t recover from a sanction like that, I’m on a shoestring. I grow my own veg, I’ve reduced my food intake. There’s nothing else I can do.”

“I’ve fallen behind on rent and I can’t afford this place now. I’ve got to move out.”

Faith is currently looking for a new place to live while waiting to hear back about an appeal lodged with the social security tribunal.

Last updated at 08:08 (GMT) on 9 November 2018 to correct an editing error.

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