A Hartlepool mum whose benefits were cut the day after her husband died of cancer has launched a campaign to help people hit by the new Universal Credit.
Hayley Reay, 43, began to experience serious problems with the Universal Credit system after her husband died following a battle with cancer.
David Reay was just 57 when he sadly died in April 2018.
Hayley has now launched a fundraising campaign in her husband’s memory to help the nine food banks that have been set up to help desperate families and individuals in Hartlepool facing financial hardship.
The mum, who worked as a carer for 20 years, had been unable to work due to a number of serious health conditions including COPD, a blood clot disorder and fibromyalgia.
And her husband, who was a truck driver for 35 years, was unable to work so he could be her carer before he underwent cancer treatment.
The pair were both using the Universal Credit system, which replaces six other benefits with a single monthly payment.
But the day after her husband passed away, Hayley said all of the money stopped.
She said: “I was going through hell and in the first six days of losing him I had to go to the job centre seven times.
“The bedroom tax hit, my PIP stopped, it was an absolute nightmare.”
Personal Independence Payment (PIP) replaces Disability Living Allowance (DLA), while the bedroom tax is where public-housing tenants with rooms deemed to be ‘spare’ face a reduction in housing benefit.
Hayley, who is mum to son Adam Calder, 25,, continued: “We had both worked all of our lives.
“In 2016 I collapsed and had to stop work and my husband gave up his job to be my carer. “But the he took poorly and we needed the help of the benefit system that we had both been paying into for all those years.”
Hayley’s story was featured in a BBC report looking at the impact of Universal Credit and sparked an outpouring of support from those who wanted to help.
Members of the public reached out via Facebook offering money, but Hayley said although she was grateful for their kindness, she hasn’t accepted any donations, as she feels that people are in a more severe situation than her.
Hayley has now set up a fundraising Facebook page to raise funds for the nine food banks in Hartlepool which have been helping desperate Hartlepool families hit by benefit changes from Universal Credit.
A target of £1,000 has been set and in just over a week already more than £600 has been raised.
People can donate via PayPal on the page with funds going directly to the Hartlepool food banks.
Hayley said: “I had not realised the amount of people who don’t have a roof over their heads. “When I saw in the BBC report the amount of people queuing for the food banks I decided to set up a fundraising page to raise funds for the nine food banks across Hartlepool.
“My husband would have been the first one to be donating, just last Christmas he was putting food in the food bank trolley.
“So this fundraiser is in his memory.
“We are hoping raise £1,000.”
A statement from the Department of Work and Pensions that featured in the report said that Hayley has received a package of support.
A DWP spokesperson said: “When a person dies it can be incredibly upsetting and difficult. “A person’s claim to benefits ends when they die, and this can sometimes leave their partner without any financial support.
“Jobcentre staff set people up with their own claim as quickly as possible, to ensure they are receiving payments.
“They can also signpost to counselling and support services, remove requirements to look for work, set up Bereavement Benefits and help with the cost of the funeral.”
To donate visit: https://www.facebook.com/donate/1431166800351552/10155472439671362/