A DOUBLE amputee died in an apparent suicide fewer than 48 hours after being told an allowance to pay his carer was being slashed by two thirds, his sister claims.
Mark Cotton, 54, had lost both his legs due to a medical condition and relied on paid help which had been agreed with the authorities.
But he was visited for a re-assessment and four days later received a telephone call to say the allowance for paid care was being cut from nine hours a week to only three.
Fewer than 48 hours later he was found dead at his home in Sevenoaks Mead,Allerton, Bradford, after apparently taking an overdose of the painkillers he needed because of his illness.
His sister Jjeneen Sherington said he had left a note and hit out: "They are the cause of his death in my eyes.
"He would still have been here if this hadn't happened".
Mr Cotton lost one leg in 2010 and returned to work in a teaching role after that but his deteriorating health meant his remaining leg was amputated in 2012.
Even before the second amputation he had needed care and Jjeneen was paid for nine hours a week, though said in reality she spent more time assisting him and could not work as a result.
"When he was told he was being re-assessed he thought because his circumstances were worse, they might give him more money.
"Then they phoned to say they were reducing his money," she said.
That worked out as a reduction in paid for care from nine to three hours a week, she said, and during his re-assessment interview, Mark had been asked if he could do his own ironing while sitting down, one of the tasks normally done by his sister.
"We were going to fight the decision, through Citizens' Advice and his MP," she said.
"He had loved his work and wanted to get back to a job. He had put himself through university and had started a course to learn a foreign language in the hope of being able to teach that, but his health meant he had to give it up.
"He had always worked and put into the country, but this was what he got back.
"The paramedics said he must have been in a lot of pain, because of the medication he had been given," she said.
A spokesman for Bradford Council said: “We are aware of the tragic death of Mr Cotton, who was known to Bradford Adult Services, and our thoughts are with his family.
“Investigations will be carried out into the circumstances of this case and it would be inappropriate to comment until those investigations have been completed,” he said.
West Yorkshire Police confirmed that a 54-year-old man was found dead after a call was made for an ambulance at 8.17am on Thursday, with no suspicious circumstances.
Post by nickd (Mylegal) on Nov 29, 2014 19:57:37 GMT
Half-blind UK widow commits suicide after incapacity benefit cut
Published time: November 28, 2014 16:35 Edited time: November 28, 2014 19:36
A partially-blind widow, who suffered crippling back pain for over a decade, committed suicide after her incapacity benefit was cut because state assessors claimed she was fit to work.
Following a two-minute assessment, private firm Atos Healthcare concluded Jacqueline Harris was fit to work despite the fact she had trouble walking and suffered constant, excruciating back pain.Her incapacity benefit was subsequently axed by the government, which pays the firm to conduct fitness-for-work assessments.
Harris, a former nurse who had claimed incapacity benefit for a number of years, was awaiting a serious spinal operation when Atos assessed her. According to the deceased’s sister, the Atos employee asked Harris one question during the interview – whether she was capable of catching a bus.
The firm has been the focus of a firestorm of criticism in recent times, with mounting claims that vulnerable and unwell people are being wrongly proposed for work, and are forced to endure exasperating and upsetting medical interviews.
‘Atos should be shot’
Fifty-three-year-old Harris was discovered dead in her home in south Gloucestershire in November 2013, with a hand written note attached to her chest stressing she did not wish to be resuscitated. She took her own life just a few weeks before an appeal hearing had been scheduled with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
Malcolm Burge is just one of at least 49 deaths that appear to be connected to the benefits system. But the government’s response has been truly shocking
‘Employment minister Esther McVey said ‘I think you’re inflaming this’ when challenged on benefit claimants’ deaths.’ Photograph: Suzanne Plunkett/Reuters
10th February 2015
Malcolm Burge wrote to his local council last year telling them he was “depressed, stressed and suicidal”. The 66-year-old retired gardener had had his housing benefit cut by 50% but a backlog at Newham council meant he had unknowingly continued to receive the higher amount.
The council issued him a demand for £809.79. “I have no savings or assets,” Burge told them in one of several letters asking for help. “I am not trying to live, I am trying to survive.” On 27 June 2014, he drove to Cheddar Gorge in Somerset and set his car on fire.
It is difficult to find the words to describe how horrific each part of that is, whether the nature of Burge’s death or that he spent his final weeks afraid, begging for help, and knowing that no one in authority cared. The coroner, who last week ruled his death as suicide, perhaps put it as best as anyone can: “Mr Burge had obviously been caught up in the change of the government benefits system.”
He couldn’t afford the electricity card to keep the fridge with his insulin in working and was found with CVs next to his body.
There are many other Malcolms and Davids – who had their benefits cut or stopped and then died, faceless, behind closed doors – but most of their names don’t make the papers. Most were disabled or chronically ill.
Post by nickd (Mylegal) on Mar 16, 2015 19:52:44 GMT
Julia Kelly was in constant pain. After two car accidents and innumerable medical procedures, she was trying to come to terms with the prospect that her spinal condition would be with her for the rest of her life. She founded a charity, Away with Pain, to help others also living with chronic pain.
But in November 2014 the 39-year-old took her own life. Last week a coroner found that "upset caused by the potential withdrawal of her benefits had been the trigger for her to end her life".
She had received letters asking her to repay some of the benefits she had claimed.
Despite her parents' offers of financial support, her father David told Channel 4 News: "She couldn't see where she was going to go from there, because with the benefits being stopped, she'd got no means of support."
I feel bitter that we don't have Julia any more.David Kelly, father
Mr Kelly says more should be done for vulnerable claimants to make the system less forbidding: "We could have never cured the pain, but I think the way the letters were sent, the way whole matter was handled by the authorities, could have been treated in a different way."
A spokesman from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said their thoughts were with Julia's family. But they said employment support allowance, which Julia claimed, was means tested. And if someone has sufficient savings, they may no longer be entitled to it.
Before her death Julia had spoken about the stress of dealing with the benefits system.
Ms Holt was sectioned under the Mental Health Act in December 2013 after being placed on a work programme for disability benefits claimants.
She had a heart attack in a psychiatric hospital and remained in a coma ever since.
But ATOS sent her a letter the next month enquiring after her fitness and suitability to work.
Mr Danczuk said Ms Holt’s family had ‘repeatedly informed’ the Department of Work and Pensions of her situation, but the letters continued.
Ms Holt’s father, Kenneth Holt, said at the time that the government’s changes to the welfare system were ‘grossly unfair’.
He said today: “Sheila should never have been on the work programme. She spent her life in and out of psychiatric hospitals and tried to commit suicide several times. She was terrified of people.
“It’s not just her. There are hundreds like her. People are dying because they are being hounded. It’s got to stop here.”
The family said Ms Holt was allocated a work placement in Middleton where she had to fill out CVs, but the situation made her severely anxious. It ultimately led to her breakdown, they said.
Mr Danczuk, who visited Ms Holt in hospital, said: “It is really sad news. It all comes down to the fact that she was treated badly.
“I am all for a welfare system that encourages people back into employment but it has got to be sophisticated enough to be able to differentiate between people who won’t work and people who can’t work. Sheila couldn’t work.”
A funeral service will be held in Rochdale tomorrow.
Post by nickd (Mylegal) on Mar 30, 2015 18:33:47 GMT
A father-of-three killed himself after his benefits were cut and he was threatened with eviction.
Benjamin McDonald, 34, who had suffered from depression for 11 years, was found hanging in the fields where he played as a child in Nelson, Lancashire, an inquest heard.
Mr McDonald’s sister Mickayla Carr told an inquest in Burnley, Lancs that her brother - who was found dead in November last year - was a “happy-go-lucky” person who doted on his five-year-old daughter.
East Lancashire coroner Richard Taylor, referring to a written statement from Ms Carr, said: “Something must have happened to make him behave the way he did.
“He had so much more to live for, especially his relationship with his daughter who he lived for. She meant the world to him.
“At the time, his money had been stopped, he had no form of income.
“He said he was threatened with eviction from his home - all matters that can play one someone’s mind very much.
Post by nickd (Mylegal) on Apr 26, 2015 17:04:53 GMT
Northampton woman, 39, took her own life after ‘constant battle’ to receive disability benefit
Julia Kelly committed suicide after facing three tribunal cases to keep her disability benefit
By Callum Jones 5th March 2015
Julia Kelly, 39, killed herself at her Kingsthorpe home in November
She committed suicide days after receiving a letter demanding she repay £4,000 in disability benefit
Her family ‘firmly believe’ the stress of the benefit claims was the ‘trigger’ for her death
A 39-year-old Northampton woman who was unable to work due to chronic back pain killed herself after the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) threatened to cut off her disability benefits, an inquest heard.
Julia Kelly, formerly of Kingsthorpe, Northampton, took her own life at her home address in November after she had been sent a series of letters from the DWP, including one that demanded she pay back £4,000.
An inquest into her death, held at Northampton General Hospital, heard Ms Kelly was extremely worried in the last weeks of her life that her benefit payments would be cut off and she would have no money to live.
“We firmly believe the letter from the DWP was the trigger for her actions. Not to be believed by the DWP that she was suffering chronic back pain and also to be accused of wrongdoing and be told her payments might be stopped - we believe she snapped and could not take it anymore.”
Mr Kelly said his daughter had been forced to “fight for every penny” of disability benefit including attending three tribunal cases.
He said Ms Kelly was a “wonderful daughter” who was out-going and popular and this was demonstrated by the fact 221 people attended her funeral.
County coroner Anne Pember, recording her verdict of suicide, said she also believed that the “upset caused by the potential withdrawal of her benefits had been the trigger for her to end her life.”
Mr Kelly said the DWP were suggesting that his daughter was not entitled to claim disability benefit as she had failed to declare capital funds.
A DWP Spokesperson said: “Our thoughts are with the family of Julia Kelly.
“Employment and Support Allowance is a means-tested benefit and entitlement depends on the amount an individual has in savings or capital.
A year ago Julia Kelly spoke to the Chronicle & Echo about her daily battle with chronic pain and how it had inspired her to set up the charity A Way With Pain, to try to help fellow sufferers.
Ms Kelly, who previously worked for Northamptonshire Young Carers, had to give up work in 2010 due to a severe back injury that had grown progressively worse since a car crash, which wasn’t her fault, in 2005.
In 2013, Ms Kelly was involved in another car crash which fractured the part of her spine that had been fused together. To repair this damage she needed a major operation lasting six hours.
Despite her health problems, Ms Kelly co-founded A Way With Pain with her father David as a way of providing support to fellow chronic pain sufferers.
Talking to the Chron last February Ms Kelly said: “One person said ‘until it happens to you, you have no idea what is involved’. It stops your life in its tracks and that is it. Pain management is probably the most under-funded area of the NHS and yet this is something that doesn’t go away. People do get suicidal.”
“You actually go through the bereavement process; not losing a person but you have lost the old you. Your morals and everything are the same, but that girl who used to jump in her car or who was the wildest on the dance floor, that has all changed. You have to get your head around that and be realistic about your expectations.
“In my head I was going to get better, then when it didn’t happen, it was like ‘oh God, now what happens?’ Some people don’t get to that mind-set, through no fault of their own, so many people fall through the net. We are there to be that safety net.”
Post by nickd (Mylegal) on May 11, 2015 19:01:39 GMT
The appalling death of a man caught up in benefits nightmare
By Cahal Milmo 6th February 2015
Malcolm Burge, 66, faced a bill of £800 because of a payments mix-up by Newham Council. With a bank balance of only £50, he took the only way out he could see
On 23 June last year, Malcolm Burge told a friend he was leaving his London home for a few days to attend a funeral in the West Country. Four days later, he parked his car in a lay-by amid the timeless beauty of Somerset’s Cheddar Gorge and ignited a can of petrol.
As the flames engulfed him and the heat blew out the windows and tyres of his Skoda, a group of teenagers rushed to Mr Burge’s aid in the gathering gloom of a summer’s evening. Amid frantic shouts, the 66-year-old pensioner got out of his vehicle and stood by the door, unmoving as the fire burned.
Teigan Baker, one of the group of youngsters, recalled: “He was completely on fire. I could see his face and he looked scared and I said ‘you have to stop and roll’. He dropped slowly to his knees before starting to roll.”
As the flames died out, the full extent of Mr Burge’s injuries became apparent and the teenagers endeavoured to try and keep him talking as he lapsed in and out of consciousness, asking him his name. Ms Baker said: “He replied ‘Malcolm’. I remember him saying ‘I have come down on holiday, I am from London’.”
Mr Burge, who had suffered 100 per cent second-degree burns to his body, was rushed to hospital by air ambulance but he could not survive his injuries. He died at 5am the following day.
The youngsters, who had frantically doused Mr Burge with bottled water, later noted that while they had tried to save him from his blazing car, there had been five or six other vehicles in the vicinity. None of the 15 occupants of those cars came to the aid of the burning man.
Post by nickd (Mylegal) on Jan 8, 2016 20:37:42 GMT
DWP told woman she was not ill enough for benefit on day she died
BY Aisha Gani 7th Jan 2016 Dawn Amos was sent letter about attendance allowance on day her husband agreed to switch off her life support machine
A woman who suffered from a debilitating lung condition was sent a letter informing her she no longer qualified for sickness benefitson the day she died.
Dawn Amos, 67, from Essex, died in November after suffering chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which left her struggling to breathe.
Her illness left her unable to walk far or do daily tasks independently. She had received attendance allowance from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to help with the cost of her personal care.
The DWP reviewed her claim based on her treatment, medication, test results and symptoms, and wrote to inform her that she was not ill enough to receive the weekly benefit, which amounted to £55.10 or £82.30 – depending on how often care was needed in a 24-hour period.
The DWP said the decision had been made using the information from her claim form and from her doctor about six months earlier. The letter said: “I consider this information to be the most suitable available and enough to decide how much help you need.”