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Guest blog: I’m one of the “Hardest Hit”

By Phillip Richards

Phillip Richards

Phillip Richards lives in Capel Llanilltern near Cardiff. He’s 56 and had a stroke in April 2010 as a result of a heart condition. Phillip now struggles to walk long distances and needs a walking stick. After his stroke he had to give up work, he’s joining other disabled people and their carers in Cardiff tomorrow for the Hardest Hit rally. In a guest blog he explains why he’s against proposals to change disability and sickness benefits. 

Illness and disability have really turned my world upside down. I’ve found it a real financial hardship since my stroke.

In July 2010 I was awarded Disability Living Allowance (DLA) at the low rate care and low rate mobility –  I appealed against the award as I felt that I my condition meant the middle rate of care would be more appropriate (there are three rates of DLA for care; low, middle and high. There are only two rates for mobility; higher rate and lower rate) it was a toss up as to whether I would get the lower rate or higher rate of mobility — after looking at the evidence the appeal panel granted me the highest rates for both mobility and care.

At the same time as my I was also awarded Employment Support Allowance (ESA) the replacement for incapacity benefit. I was placed in the work based group (which means that the department of work and pensions determined that I was able to work) I also appealed this award as I could not work. The medical was not correct in its findings, this happens in most cases.

The initial awards were granted in July last year. I had my appeal hearing for ESA in August this year.

After verbally giving evidence the judge again found in my favour. I was placed in the Support Group until my next medical. I don’t know when that will be.

As is the case for many disabled people I would love to be fit for work, but since my stroke and the installation of a pacemaker I have serious difficultly walking and my balance is shot to bits.

For the first time since my stroke I feel like I am finally getting the financial support I need and deserve but it’s been a struggle.

Like many other disabled people I support the Hardest Hit campaign. I want to dispel this myth that disabled people and scroungers and spongers. Clearly there are a tiny minority of people who are trying to defraud the system, but the innocent majority of disabled people, like myself, are being penalised by the new reforms and “tough” initial medicals.

Ironically because of my disability I don’t feel physically able to take part in the tomorrow’s rally, but my wife and daughter will be showing solidarity with thousands of other people in Cardiff on this Saturday.

Join them and thousands more at the Hardest Hit Rally outside City Hall at 12.30pm tomorrow.



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3 thoughts on “Guest blog: I’m one of the “Hardest Hit”

  1. Hi Phillip,
    I fully support & understand what you, your family and many others are going through as my husband is in a similar position.
    After an accident whilst serving in the armed services my husband is now left with mobility problems and is currently on morphine and various other pain relief drugs . He has been in this position now for over 10 years will deteriorate.
    Originally on Incapacity benefit he has now been told although he will get the new ESA but will have to attend back to work sessions in order to keep recieving this.We are appealing this as for one thing it will be difficult for my husband to even attend these meetings without myself or someone being with him so how on earth do they expect him to be able to manage a job ? Its soul destroying and the forms they ask you to fill in are horrendous.
    His DLA is at present being reviewed as is every 3 years but we fear they have changed the boundries and quite frankly are dreading the outcome. Not only do disabled people stuggle with their disabilities every day but now have the extra stress of wondering if their benefits are going to be cut and if they will be able to support their families.
    Disabled people would love to be able to work and have a normal family life but through NO fault of their own they arent able to and have to depend on benefits to live and this in itself is not easy with a family and extra heating costs etc..
    I go to work and care for my husband………I could claim carers allowance but its such a pittance we couldnt survive without my income so we have to struggle on like too many disabled people.
    The government need to show disabled people and their families some respect and care, they shouldnt be made to feel like scroungers , second class citizens cheats and liars which is what they are doing.
    Good Luck & Thankyou to your wife and daughter on the Rally and all the others able to attend lets hope they listen!
    Sue Hurrell

    Posted by sue Hurrell | October 23, 2011, 12:45 pm
    • Sue, I have just read both yours and Phillip’s story and again, mine is almost identical. My husband has had a series of strokes (2006) and has been on Incapacity benefit and Low rate DLA (reviewed every 3 years) since. He suffers from fatigue, dizziness, nausea and depression as a result and has to spend much of the day lying down to try to alleviate the symptoms. We have 3 children and I work 30 hours a week for the princely sum of £7.20 an hour. My husband has not yet been reassessed for ESA but this will happen soon enough and I’m sure that when he is he will be put in the work related activity group which will be contribution based and therefore time limited to one year. After this time, presuming he loses DLA as well we will no longer be able to pay the mortgage and will therefore potentially all be homeless. This is a despicable way to treat disabled people and their families and of course we will appeal but I really feel that people such as ourselves should not be victimised in this way. I attended the rally in Newcastle yesterday with my kids and have contacted my MP and will continue to do anything I can to oppose the Welfare Destruction Bill (as we have come to know it)! All the best to both of you and don’t give up!
      Rachel Barron

      Posted by Rachel Barron | October 23, 2011, 6:29 pm
  2. Hi Both, Thank you for your comments. I feel the same as you do, and If I can Help in anyway you can Email me at the Following Address.


    Keep up the Fight

    Posted by Phillip Richards | October 24, 2011, 7:38 pm

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