‘Cold, clinical’ treatment of bedbound woman raised with DWP boss

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The 'cold and clinical' treatment of a seriously ill, bedbound Liverpool woman by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) has been raised with the Secretary of State.

Last week, the ECHO reported that south Liverpool woman Emma Dolan Horlock, who suffers from a range of severe conditions that mean she has been stuck in her bed for the past six years, had seen her Universal Credit payments stopped by the DWP.

This had been done because Emma, 46 – who originally fell ill after being bitten by a tick and developing Lyme Disease 10 years ago – had raised extra cash through a crowdfunding campaign.

But the £35,000 that was generously donated by her supporters was done so specifically to pay for private treatment and a specialist stretcher that Emma badly needs after her NHS treatment was delayed.

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But despite making this clear to the DWP, she lost an appeal and the Universal Credit payment s that she relies on for day to day living costs were abruptly stopped.

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The troubling case has now been picked up by Liverpool Council's new cabinet member for health, adult and children's social care, Cllr Frazer Lake.

In a hard hitting letter to DWP Secretary Thérèse Coffey, he described the treatment of the vulnerable and incapacitated Emma as 'cold and clinical.'

He added: "There doesn't appear to have been any human element or common sense applied here and instead a black and white approach has been adopted.

"People need our support, even more so now in the midst of a global pandemic – how is placing someone into financial difficulty supporting them?"

"Now is not the time to treat people like pawns on a political chess board. Time and time again we have we have seen instances of people's circumstances not being assessed correctly and forcing them down the routes of appeal.

"This shouldn't be needed and we should be getting this right first time, for everyone's benefit."

Emma is currently working with welfare lawyer Steven Lunt of Astraea Legal on a potential legal challenge to the DWP decision, but Cllr Lake said it shouldn't need to reach such a stage.

His letter to the Secretary of State added: "I would urge you to review this case on an urgent basis. As the days go on for you and your teams to reconsider this decision, Ms Dolan Horlock's pain and suffering do not end.

"Instead she is being placed in a no win situation, adding undue financial strain and pressure on her, which only goes to exacerbate her health conditions and causes a further detrimental impact to her quality of life."

When asked for a response to Emma's situation last week, a Department of Work and Pensions spokesperson said: “Our Merseyside team is helping Ms Horlock take the necessary steps to re-open her claim and support her during this difficult time. In the meantime, she is in receipt of the highest levels of Personal Independence Payments.”

To contribute to Emma's crowdfunding campaign, click here

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