26. The relevant evidence we have considered includes DWP’s records and information from Ms U’s representative. All information relevant to our findings is in this report.
27. Ms U’s representative has been supporting her since 2017 and is well-informed as to her personal circumstances and the way in which DWP’s error affected her. He told us that the fact that for five years Ms U received only around half the amount in legislation as the minimum requirement for a person with severe disability needs meant she could not afford to heat her property and could not afford to buy appropriate food to keep healthy. He said Ms U had poor mental health during that period and highlighted links between paranoid beliefs and depression and economic deprivation. As far as her physical health was concerned, her hair fell out and she lost a lot of weight. Her representative said that since 2012, Ms U’s health had declined markedly: she had recently had a by-pass operation, had deep vein thrombosis and poor blood flow in her legs and was due to have a toe amputated.
28. As well, Ms U’s representative said diet was an important part of managing Ms U’s Graves’ disease (Graves' disease is an autoimmune condition. Common symptoms include anxiety and irritability, heat sensitivity, a fast metabolism and weight loss despite normal eating habits, enlargement of the thyroid gland and fatigue). He said Ms U was at risk of hypothermia as she was not able to heat her home, which also affected her arthritis. Her representative said not being able to access passported benefits meant Ms U was not able to have urgently needed dental treatment, and did not receive free prescriptions essential for treating her health conditions or about £700 in Warm Home Discounts.