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Deal dad's benefits battle appeal hit by cutbacks at the Citizens Advice Bureau

A former DJ whose life dramatically changed when he suffered a stroke has been refused the benefits he needs and now his last resort – the CAB – has had its funding cut.

Douglas Brown, of Golf Road, is now partially sighted and walks with a white stick since he is plagued with vertigo, has vascular dementia, and the left side of his brain does not work properly.

The 62-year-old was only 59 when he had the stroke and since then he and his daughter Emma Holland have been trying to get him the help he needs.

Emma Holland, Douglas Brown and Dawn Hardingham from CAB
Emma Holland, Douglas Brown and Dawn Hardingham from CAB

But the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) they applied for has been refused.

Benefit specialist Dawn Hardingham at the Dover, Deal Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) has been working with them to appeal but as of next Friday, September 30, the specialist team will lose their jobs.

Mrs Holland, 39, who lives in Dover, said: “He can’t afford to get taxis to his appointments and he can’t walk. He gets tired after a few minutes.”

Hospital trips by taxi cost £7 a trip and as the appointments mount up, so does the cost.

Douglas Brown's benefit battle hit by cutbacks to Citizens Advice service
Douglas Brown's benefit battle hit by cutbacks to Citizens Advice service

PIP is a benefit which helps with extra costs caused by long-term ill-health or a disability for those aged 16 to 64.

CAB’s specialist team helps people appeal against decisions that stop them getting the funding they are entitled to, and has a 98% success rate.

Mrs Holland said about 30 other people are in the same boat as them trying to claim PIP.

Mrs Hardingham, a benefits specialist trainer at CAB, said: “Mr Brown is an example of the impact of benefit changes on the most vulnerable in society. A hardworking man, who paid national insurance and was also his mother’s carer.

“A stroke changed his life beyond recognition but he is being denied the support he so badly needs as a direct result of benefit cuts.

Citizens Advice Bureau
Citizens Advice Bureau

“We are taking his case to the highest level. However, due to financial cuts we are losing our benefit specialists.

“Dover, Deal Citizens Advice was one of the few districts in Kent to have this valuable service, now clients who need to appeal will have nowhere else to turn for specialist help.”

Citizens Advice is a charity and relies on volunteers, donations and grants. Since legal aid cuts in 2013, people have had limited access to justice and a lack of funding means the specialists can no longer continue.

Mrs Hardingham added: “We will, as always, continue to provide help and guidance but will no longer be able to give our unique specialist help with tribunals, when vulnerable people are having benefits refused all the time. Our specialists have dealt with 263 appeals this year and our success rate is 98%. This gained clients extra income totalling £938,079.

“There appears to be a general campaign to discredit benefit claimants which makes it hard to gain public support, but this could happen to anyone.”

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