Cherie Blair's stepmother claims Universal Credit after huge care bills for her actor husband Tony Booth wiped out savings

  • Cherie Blair's stepmother forced to claim Universal Credit after husband's death
  • Steph Booth said savings were wiped out after husband's costly medical bills 
  • Actor Tony Booth was diagnosed with dementia in 2004, passed away in 2017 
  • Steph gave up work to look after him and admitted the couple were 'broke'  

Cherie Blair's stepmother has admitted she was forced to claim Universal Credit after her husband, the late actor Tony Booth, wiped out their savings on his dementia treatment. 

Steph Booth, 64, who was married to Booth for 23 years claims his care costs totaling tens of thousands of pounds left her penniless and forced her to claim Universal Credit for six months.

The Till Death Us Do Part actor and father of Cherie Blair was diagnosed with dementia in 2004 and passed away in 2017. 

Steph pictured with her late husband, actor Tony Booth

Steph pictured with her late husband, actor Tony Booth 

Steph Booth pictured in March 2019. She claims her husband's dementia care costs left her penniless

Steph Booth pictured in March 2019. She claims her husband's dementia care costs left her penniless 

Tony Booth and his wife Stephanie at their home in Todmorden, Lancashire when he was suffering with Alzheimer's

Tony Booth and his wife Stephanie at their home in Todmorden, Lancashire when he was suffering with Alzheimer's

Steph gave up her job as a teacher to look after him in Todmorden, West Yorkshire. 'When Tony died we were broke. I had no income for five years and we had used all our savings,' she said.  

'All the benefits stop­­ped and I had absolutely nothing. No husband, no income, nothing. It was such a shock.

Tony Booth is best known for his time on the hit show Till Death Us Do Part where he played Mike Rawlins (pictured above - in character)

Tony Booth is best known for his time on the hit show Till Death Us Do Part where he played Mike Rawlins (pictured above - in character)

'I lived on Universal Credit for six months. It was horrible to be that low,' she told the Mirror.  

She admitted that Cherie Blair, Tony Blair's lawyer wife, had sometimes given them handouts but it was 'difficult' to ask her for help.  

Steph said Tony's care plan was not sufficient and she had to fork out money to be able to provide him with a good quality of life. 

'These packages don't take into account the needs of the human being. Instead it's a one-size-fits-all approach.'  

She pointed out there were 80,000 people in the UK living with dementia.  'This disease is already causing untold misery for these people but this is added to by the bureaucracy of the system which denies people help,' she said.  

Last month, Steph revealed how her husband Tony was placed in a mental hospital for two weeks after 'whacking' her as he battled Alzheimer's disease.

She said the Till Death Us Do Part star, who died aged 85 in 2017, hit her in the back of the head after being told he was going into a respite home. 'He whacked me so hard I bit my tongue,' Mrs Booth, 64, told the Henley Literary Festival. 'That evening he was sectioned.' 

Booth – the father of former Prime Minister's wife Cherie Blair – then switched to a different drug which helped remove his 'frustration'. Mrs Booth said: 'He didn't do anything like that again.' 

She met the actor in 1996 at a party and he later told her it had been 'love at first sight.' 

Anthony Booth was the father of Cherie Blair, wife of former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair

She admitted that Cherie Blair (pictured), former prime minister Tony Blair's wife, had sometimes given them handouts but it was 'difficult' to ask her for help

She admitted that Cherie Blair (pictured), former prime minister Tony Blair's wife, had sometimes given them handouts but it was 'difficult' to ask her for help

She said he saw his battle with Alzheimer's as a 'shameful secret', and refused to stop work until one day he announced he 'can't act any more'.

Mrs Booth said: 'That moment of recognition was incredibly painful and deeply shocking. People [with Alzheimer's] don't look ill but it just takes them apart.'

The actor had eight daughters from four marriages. Mrs Blair and others struggled to accept his diagnosis.

Mrs Booth's book, Married To Alzheimer's: A Life Less Ordinary With Tony Booth, tells in detail how he attacked her. She wrote the force of the blow 'hurt my eyes' and made her 'bite my tongue hard'.

She added: 'There was blood pouring out of my mouth, but more than anything I was completely shocked.

'Tony had locked himself in the bathroom and was insisting he hadn't hit me. I had to rummage about...for a T-shirt to mop up the blood. Things had really gone too far. I could not and did not want to cope with Tony's behaviour any more.

'I phoned the GP who suggested that, for my own safety, Tony would have to be sectioned. I was upset, but knew there was no other option.'

What is Universal Credit?  

What is Universal Credit?

A radical change to the benefits system which combines six payments – including tax credits, housing benefit and income support – into a single, means-tested payment.

How does it work?

A claimant's benefits should be adjusted automatically if their wages change. 

Benefits will gradually 'taper' off if a claimant finds work or earns more. 

What is the timetable?

After teething troubles with the computer systems implementation has been hit by delays.

There are currently around 610,000 on UC and this will go up by anther 12 million over the next five years.

Why a five-week delay on payments?

Controversially the benefit is paid five weeks in arrears - this is because it is based on your previous month's earnings.

Critics say this delay pushed people into debt. 

 

  

Cherie Blair's stepmother claims Universal Credit after huge care bills wiped out savings

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