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Widow with cancer lives off food banks... she was turned down for Universal Credit payment

07 Dec 2019, 10:11 ... t-17374292

Deborah Parsons says she's afraid of putting the heating on as she's so broke

Widowed Deborah Parsons says she's been forced to rely on food banks to feed her daughter after she was 'plunged into poverty' while she was turned down for a Universal Credit payment.

Deborah, from Sidmouth, Devon, is too poorly to work and was given a total of £0 in Universal Credit, DevonLive reports.

She says she is "afraid to put the heating on" and has been under enormous financial pressure since being diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer in July 2019.

Deborah has undergone a mastectomy and invasive surgery to ensure it has not spread to her lymph nodes, plus weekly chemotherapy and trips to Honiton Hospital.

She has had to give up her cleaning business, Maid in Sidmouth, as she is too ill.

She now has to go to food banks so she can feed her 13-year-old daughter.

Her only other income is a £560 payment from a widowed parent's allowance which pays her mortgage on the house where she lives with her daughter, who is 13.

After a five-week wait for Universal Credit, she was told she would receive nothing due to the widowed parent's allowance and a £42 a month Royal Mail pension.

She said: "We're all just a diagnosis away from disaster," she said. She also had to attend a Job Centre, a 15-minute drive away, when "feeling extremely unwell" to attend an appointment with a work coach.

"I can assure you, if I was well enough to work, I wouldn’t need a work coach."

She continued: "I just don't know what I'm going to do. I feel guilty that I'm not working at the moment and that's wrong.

"I've just been so worried with how I'm going to pay for everything."

Deborah added: "It’s tough having the diagnosis then having to fight for the support. Illness is just too easily overlooked as actually, we are all just one diagnosis away from being in this hardship.

"We all think it won’t happen to us. But it can happen to anyone."

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