EXCLUSIVE: Dying cancer patient from Northampton told she cannot claim benefits

A terminal cancer patient from Northampton with tumours in her lungs and pelvis has been told she needs to find a job after the Government removed her disability benefits.

Thursday, 17th March 2016, 6:30 am
Jane Windle has terminal cancer but has been assessed by the government as fit to work - despite receiving disability benefit for the last 15 years Jane pictured with her husband William. NNL-160316-122501009

Jane Windle, 52, from Parkwood Street, was first diagnosed with a carcinoid form of cancer in 2001.

Doctors gave her between two and 10 years to live, but the battling former petrol station worker is still alive 15 years later.

Until last month she was supported by £140-a-week from the Disability Living Allowance.

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But with that benefit being gradually phased out, Mrs Windle was assessed for its replacement, Personal Independence Payments (PIP), in February.

But the Department for Work and Pensions has now told her she is entitled to nothing, despite her terminal illness, arthritis and emphysema.

Her husband William, who has now lost his carers’ allowance as a result, is not sure how they will cope being £200-a-week worse off.

He said: “Jane just feels like she is being punished for battling back against cancer.

“She has basically been told by the people who assessed for one hour that she is well enough to do without PIP, when she has been ill for 15 years. They have made a terminally ill woman wish she never battled cancer.”

Jane was assessed by the firm Capita on February 22. She was asked whether she could walk 50 metres unaided, whether she could bathe, cook and clean without help.

But Mr Windle said the report sent back to them was incorrect. “They have said she is capable of things she is just not capable of,” he said. “They say she can walk 200 metres. Can you imagine what a lump in your lungs and pelvis feels like? Jane struggles to stand up let alone walk the length of Abington Street in one go.”

The couple say they will have to rely on handouts from family and friends while they attempt to apply for Employment Support Allowance (ESA). That process could take months.

Mrs Windle says she simply cannot work in her condition, which leaves her constantly out of breath.

They are now launching an appeal against the decision, which could also take months.

The DWP, the government department which handles benefits, said it will review Jane Windle’s case.

A spokeswoman said: “Decisions on eligibility for Personal Independence Payment are made after consideration of all the evidence, including an assessment and information provided by the claimant and their GP. All claimants have the opportunity to appeal and if their situation changes, they can ask to be reassessed.”

But Mr Windle says he would love to meet welfare secretary Iain Duncan-Smith to tell the Tory how his benefit cutting policies have affected people like him and Jane. He said: “The fact that an hour long conversation can judge the rest of someone’s entire life is leaving terminally ill people penniless.

“We literally have no money coming in. When we spoke to our GP he told us we weren’t the only people in this situation.”