Theresa May confronted by disabled woman angry over government cuts on campaign trail

‘I haven’t got a carer at the moment and I’m angry. And I would like somebody to help me’

Rob Merrick
Deputy Political Editor
Monday 15 May 2017 18:20 BST
'The fat cats keep the money and us lot get nothing': Theresa May confronted on the campaign trail

Theresa May has been confronted by a voter protesting about cuts to her disability benefits, in her toughest moment on the campaign trail.

A woman called Cathy, who said she had learning difficulties, tore into the Prime Minister on a walkabout in a market in Oxfordshire.

Cathy told Ms May of the harsh effect of losing her Disability Living Allowance, which was replaced by the new Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

“Do you know what I want? I want my Disability Living Allowance to come back,” she told the Prime Minister. “Not have PIPs and get nothing.”

“I can’t live on £100 a month. They just took it all away from me.”

Ms May tried to say that she was giving mental health more priority but Cathy interrupted to say: “I mean people in wheelchairs, and everybody, not just myself. For all of us!”

The confrontation was captured by 5 News, after repeated criticism of the Prime Minister for avoiding real voters in favour of stage-managed events with Tory supporters.

Cathy had spotted the Prime Minister in Abingdon market, saying to her: “Theresa, are you going to help people with learning disabilities? I’m being serious, I want you to do something for us.

“I haven’t got a carer at the moment and I’m angry. And I would like somebody to help me because I can’t do everything I want to do.

“I’m talking about everyone. I want them not to have their money taken away from them and being crippled. The fat cats keep the money and us lot get nothing!”

The Prime Minister tried to deflect the criticism, by saying: “Cathy, we’re doing a number of things. Let me tell you just one thing...”, but Cathy carried on, determined to tell of her hardship because of the controversial benefits shake-up.

The learning disability charity Mencap offered support to Cathy, arguing it was “very worrying” that the Prime Minister did not appear to understand her condition.

“Many people with a learning disability are scared of changes to their disability benefits and are understandably angry,” said Ismail Kaji, a Mencap support officer.

“I was really worried to hear Theresa May keep talking about mental health, when Cathy said she has a learning disability, which is not anything to do with mental health.

“That makes me think that Theresa May is unclear on the difference, and that is very worrying.”

There has been rising controversy over PIPs, including over a recent increase in people having their claims rejected.

A total of 134,000 people were awarded zero scores for either help with daily living or limited mobility, or both, between April and October last year.

Around 900 people are losing their Motability cars each week, having been awarded only the standard, instead of the enhanced rate of PIP, leaving many unable to get around.

And ministers were strongly criticised last month, when they overturned a tribunal ruling that PIPs should also cover conditions including epilepsy, diabetes and dementia.

Anger grew when it emerged the Government’s experts had called for a delay until the changes had been properly tested and “clearly understood”.

Quizzed by The Independent last week, the Prime Minister refused to rule out making further cuts to disability benefits in the next Parliament, if she is returned to power.

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