Leeds: Woodhouse disabled woman’s £25,000 payback

Josephine Casely-Hayford.
Josephine Casely-Hayford.
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A disabled woman has been ordered to pay back £25,000 by benefit chiefs.

Josephine Casely-Hayford suffers from systemic lupus erythematosus and needs help to get out of bed in the morning because of her painful joints.

Her former partner, who lives at a separate address in Leeds, used to visit Ms Casely-Hayford to help her with her daily routine when her disability flares up.

But now the 54-year-old from Woodhouse, Leeds, has had her benefits slashed by the Department of Work and Pensions because they claim that her partner was living at her address.

The former creative writing lecturer said: “My partner started coming in to help to do things for me. I can’t even cook for myself any more because my hands swell up.

“I’m being criminalised and in danger of losing my home because I can’t fund anything.”

Ms Casely-Hayford has had her housing benefit, income support and council tax payments suspended and has been told to pay back £25,000 dated from July 2009 to October 2010.

Mum-of-three Casely-Hayford, who was diagnosed with lupus in 2004, said: “When I needed extra help I contacted the DWP to find out where I stood.

“They said that someone would call me but nothing happened. I contacted them again and was promised a call back but nothing happened.

“I’m not a lazy person but it is just because of ill health that I’m in this situation.”

Ms Casely-Hayford is in the process of appealing against the DWP’s decision to slash her benefits.

A spokeswoman from the DWP said that they were unable to comment on individual cases.

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