Melton couple’s anguish over benefit cuts for son with heart condition

Ashleigh Woods with son Jack, who has had four open heart surgeries because of a congenital condition EMN-171013-115858001
Ashleigh Woods with son Jack, who has had four open heart surgeries because of a congenital condition EMN-171013-115858001
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A Melton couple have been left reeling by the loss of £1,500 a month in benefits for their seven-year-old son who suffers from a heart defect.

Jack Woods has had four separate open heart surgeries in his short life and he will eventually require a heart transplant.

The benefits department says he no longer requires the high rate care he did when he was younger.

But, mum Ashleigh (31) insists her son is still suffering the effects of the condition he was born with.

Jack can’t walk far because he gets tired very easily, she said, the heating has to be on because he can’t regulate his own body temperature.

He is lethargic, has bad migraines and is often feeling too unwell to attend Swallowdale Primary School.

“They are basically saying Jack is now a normal little boy, but he clearly isn’t,” said Ashleigh, who has four other young children with husband Gary (45).

“He had his first heart surgery at six days old, only half of his heart is actually working and he will need a heart transplant.

“They suddenly stopped paying the benefits we get for Jack after doing a review.

“It means we are losing around £1,500 a month and we are really struggling.”

The couple say their son has not been properly assessed and are confident Jack’s cardiologist and GP would back their case to have their full level of benefits reinstated for a carer’s allowance, disability living allowance and child tax credit.

Mrs Woods said: “No-one has actually been to see Jack to assess him.

“I am 100 per cent confident that if they had seen him and got in touch with the right people then they would never have stopped all these benefits.”

The family have four other children, aged eight, five, three and 10 months.

And Mrs Woods said her attention has to be more focused on Jack because of his condition and sometimes the other children miss out.

She said the stress and hardship of losing his benefits was having an impact on them all.

The couple are pinning their hopes on a tribunal finding in their favour and restoring their benefits. A date for it will shortly be given to them.

Mrs Woods added: “It is a struggle now and it’s taking its toll on me, his dad and the whole family.”

A spokesperson for the Department for Work and Pensions said: “Decisions on Disability Living Allowance for children like Jack are made following consideration of all the information provided by the family and their GP or medical specialist.

“Anyone who disagrees with a decision can appeal, and any further evidence will be considered by the independent assessor.”