CHARITY Epilepsy Action has highlighted a Bradford couple’s plight as it lobbies Government in protest at benefits changes.

Many people with epilepsy need Personal Independence Payments (PIP) to help them carry out daily tasks safely, from getting to work to bathing and cooking at home, according to the Yeadon-based charity.

Its figures show almost two thirds of people with epilepsy who previously received Disability Living Allowance (DLA) had their award denied or downgraded following a reassessment for PIP.

Epilepsy has the highest refusal rate for people claiming PIP, which are 20 per cent above the national average for all health conditions, it says.

It is submitting written evidence to the Work and Pensions Committee next month ahead of an inquiry into the PIP assessment system.

Ashleigh Dawson, 22, a student nurse in Bradford, was diagnosed with epilepsy ten years ago after she had a seizure at school.

She has not had a tonic clonic seizure, which affects the whole brain, for more than a year, due to her medication, but she does continue to experience partial seizures, which can mean she has blackouts.

She said: “I was asked questions about myself and my hobbies.

“When I received my letter saying that I had been refused the PIP, they had stated that I was able to walk a small distance unaided, I was able to talk independently and intelligently and I was well kept.

“I was extremely annoyed at this answer, as I felt I had been discriminated for being a student and they were being prejudiced as I was wearing make-up and had dressed smartly for the occasion.

“Because I no longer have PIP, I am relying on my husband Simon’s wage to support us both while I study to be a nurse. We were struggling to make ends meet and as a result have had to move in with my parents and pay them rent.

“The PIP - £307 per month - gave me independence and they have taken that from me.”

A Department of Work and Pensions spokesman said: “We are committed to supporting people with disabilities and health conditions, which is why we introduced PIP to replace the outdated DLA system.

“PIP is a better benefit which takes a much wider look at the way an individual’s disability or health condition, such as epilepsy, impacts them on a daily basis.

“Under PIP 29 per cent of claimants receive the highest rate of support compared to 15 per cent under DLA.”