A BROMSGROVE widow has shared her struggles accessing benefits for her dying husband amidst a call for national change.

Marie Curie has called for the next Government to "waste no time in fixing benefits for dying people" to get the support they need.

Bromsgrove woman Jo Lynton spent months trying to claim benefits for her husband Mark, who died in July 2019.

She said: “My husband was ill for 22 weeks and 6 days and that was all. I spent 15 weeks fighting to get some help and the benefits we were entitled to and I didn’t manage to do it. It was very frustrating, very upsetting and emotionally it was a very difficult time.

“Mark didn’t have a quality of life from soon after he was diagnosed. He had to stop work before he got the diagnosis. It was so rapid. He found it difficult to eat. He couldn’t swallow. He struggled to breathe. He couldn’t get up and down stairs. He lost the use of his arms so quickly. He lost the ability to speak. It was so rapid and in some ways that’s good because motor neurone can go on for years.

“I was his full-time carer. 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I couldn’t leave the house. I couldn’t go shopping. I did everything for him. I showered him, shaved him, washed him, dressed him, gave him a drink, fed him, gave him his medication.

“Claiming benefits was horrendous. We were entitled to claim income support of £50 a week and council tax benefits. I couldn’t get either of those because I couldn’t get anybody from Universal Credit to answer the phone.

“We were on hold for 50-60 minutes and I couldn’t be on hold for 50 or 60 minutes because my husband could choke on his own saliva so what was I supposed to do? Tell him to choke quietly as I’m waiting on the phone to get £50 a week?

“It didn’t affect Mark’s day to day life because he didn’t know, but I would just sit and cry because there was nothing I could do. We needed the support and we just couldn’t get it and there was nothing I could do about it.

“It made me really, really angry because me and my husband have both worked all our lives.

"We’ve paid in to the system and the one time we needed help, we couldn’t get it.”

A new report from Marie Curie published today shows that 43 per cent of those caring for people at the end of life say they struggle financially.

The total cost of living with a terminal illness in the UK can be between £12,000 and £16,000 a year. The report shows that 60 per cent of people living with a terminal illness rely on benefits as their main source of income yet more than 17,000 people in Great Britain have died waiting for a decision on a PIP claim since 2013.

Every day, 10 people in this country die waiting for Personal Independence Payments (PIP) and this means some are dying in distressing financial circumstances because they have been denied the state benefits they are entitled to.

Matthew Reed, Chief Executive of Marie Curie, said: “As many as 1400 people could have died waiting for benefits since the review was announced in the summer, and as every day passes countless more people will be let down by the benefits system. We’re very disappointed that none of the major UK parties have included benefits reform for dying people in their manifestos.