A partially blind a deaf man claims he’s been left feeling “suicidal” and “living off water” after the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) stopped his disability benefits.
Nicholas Squirrell, who also suffers with ADHD and Asperger’s Syndrome, say’s he is now at risk of losing his home after his benefits were cut to just £101 per week.
The 27-year-old, from Cliftonville in Kent, says he is unable to afford the rent and has become reliant on food banks after failing an assessment for Personal Independence Payment (PIP).
Mr Squirrell had been in receipt of the severe disability element of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). However, this was removed when he failed his PIP assessment, meaning he is not only missing out on PIP but also the £68 a week ESA Severe Disability Premium.
Mr Squirrell is appealing the decision but says the experience has had a devastating impact on this mental health.
He told KentLive: “Lawyers have asked for me to be a priority for my court case due to my mental health. This just puts another pressure point on me.
“They (the DWP) think my eyes are fine, when they are not. They do not think I have a hearing impairment.
“But they are not in my body. They also don’t think I have mental health issues. After my partner passed away in July, I took an overdose.
“I used to be able to pick the phone up and speak to my partner. He used to be able to calm me down, I used to be able to get out of the flat.
“But now every time my anxiety goes through the roof, I end up in tears.”
He added: “The court date could be ages. I can’t afford to keep living off £202 every two weeks.
“I’m having to borrow because I have been struggling. After I pay back my debt and rent, that leaves me £50 every two weeks to live on for food and bills.
“I’m living off water and suicidal every day.”
Mr Squirrell says he has become lonely and isolated, and “sat indoors every day”, because he no longer has a carer.
“I’m trying to go out and do things for myself”, he said. “But I don’t go out anymore because I can’t afford to, I’m sat indoors everyday.
“When I go and see my dad in Ramsgate, I don’t have money for a taxi or a bus so I have to walk.
“I don’t even have my car anymore. I don’t have anything left to my name.”
A DWP spokesman said: “We’re committed to ensuring that disabled people get the full support that they need, and under PIP 30% of people are getting the highest rate of support, compared with 15% under Disability Living Allowance.
“Decisions are made following consideration of all the information provided by the claimant at the time, including supporting evidence from their GP or medical specialist.
“All claimants have the right to appeal and can present further evidence to support their claim as part of this.”