DWP apologises for voicemail to tragic mum and says benefits decision was changed after her suicide

Jodey Whiting’s family told an inquest she took her own life after her benefits were stopped :: The decision was overturned after her death

The mother of tragic benefits mum Jodey Whiting today said: “Sorry isn’t good enough” after receiving a government apology following her daughter’s death.

Disabled mum-of-nine Jody’s inquest was told she committed suicide after her Employment Support Allowance was stopped for missing one appointment.

But Department of Work and Pensions bosses have now apologised to her family after its staff left Jodey a voicemail – despite being told of her death.

And it’s emerged the decision to stop her claim, which her family say was the “trigger” behind her suicide, was overturned after her death.

Clutching the apology letter, grieving mum Joy Dove said: “Sorry isn’t good enough, and it doesn’t bring my daughter back.

“To me, this apology proves they feel some guilt.”

Joy is now planning a campaign, dubbed ‘Justice for Jodey’, in her 42-year-old daughter’s memory.

Teesside Coroner’s Court heard lifelong back problems left the retired shop worker barely able to leave her Stockton home, while she previously battled mental health problems.

But a heartbreaking chain of events was ultimately attributed to her death.

* Jodey was told to attend a health assessment on January 16

* The DWP asked her why she failed to attend, which she stated she was in hospital with a brain cyst and never received an appointment letter, although the body claimed there was no evidence to support this.

* A decision maker ruled on February 6 that she hadn’t provided sufficient evidence, and her benefits were stopped.

* On February 10, Jodey “raised concerns” about the decision, before formally appealing that decision three days later.

* On February 21, Jodey committed suicide.

* A different decision maker ruled on February 25 that, despite extra evidence from Jodey, her claim should still be closed.

Jodey Whiting

Jodey Whiting

However, the DWP’s system wasn’t updated until March 1 – over a week after she passed away.

That meant staff left a voicemail for Jodey which Joy claims broke her heart.

“It was bang out of order, unforgiveable,” said the 63-year-old.

“I was upset and crying when I heard the message and just wanted to fill up.”

Addressing the error, the DWP’s Karen Hibbert states in the letter: “This clearly should not have happened.”

The letter also states the DWP didn’t receive notice of Jodey’s final appeal over her benefit cuts until over a month after a death.

That appeal included a letter from Stockton ’s Citizen Advice Bureau dated February 15, six days before her death.

She had turned up at their offices with a “number of unopened letters”, including her appointment letter.

It was claimed that her mental health condition meant she struggled to “deal” with her mail.

Citizen’s Advice requested that the DWP reverse its decision to stop her payments, and in the letter to Jodey’s family, the DWP states: “In light of this further evidence, on 31 March 2017 the decision on Jodey’s claim for ESA was changed.

“I hope you will accept my assurance that this decision was based entirely on the evidence contained within the appeal notice we received on 23 March.”

Jodey’s mum Joy Dove with Jodey’s daughter Emma Bell (Photo: Ian McIntyre)

It added: “My apologies for those aspects of our service that fell below our usual standards.”

For Joy, as she clutches a picture of her “beautiful” daughter, it is an apology she struggles to accept.

“They should have just believed what Jodey was saying, or at least made a few calls themselves rather than just end it all there and then.

“There are a lot of things they can work on.”

The DWP has since made back payments of Jodey’s benefit money to her family. It declined to make further comment.

Following her inquest, a spokesperson said: “Our thoughts are with Miss Whiting’s family at this difficult time.

“Suicide is a very complex issue.”

Her inquest ruled she died following a drug cocktail. No blame was attributed to the body by coroner Jo Wharton.

But Joy said: “I still think they are in the wrong.

“My Jodey has gone now, but I want this to stop happening to other people.

Source: http://www.gazettelive.co.uk/news/teesside-news/dwp-apologises-voicemail-tragic-mum-13202993

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2 Comments

  1. the dwp have absolutely NO idea of the struggles disabled people go through on a daily basis. I have POA for my son who is on the Autistic Spectrum. I have fibromyalgia with many other complex health issues that I have to take high levels of morphine daily. I coulnt remember where I had put the letter or the date. I called the DWP who said theyd stopped my sons money . I then said reasons why he hadnt attended was my fault not his, the girl said they would do a managers decision on it, last we heard, he had no money and became very distressed, I rang yet again , had to appeal and get new date. Its been 6 weeks since that attendance yet only just heard he will get his money. It is a disgrace the way they behave, they say disabled people should work but when they do they stop all benefits… Others they refuse to pay stating theyre not disabled enough or sick enough. One DR has been seen to accuse a DWP appellant of exaggerating her condition and that no consultant had ever stated she suffered what she does. Yet the medical evidence is there . She demanded apology from lying Dr Blackie in Wirral who by the way was seen to be wearing a handmade suit paid for out of the money he gets for his attendance on these appeals- this man is arrogant, rude, blind stupid and has no manners at all, he still has not apologised for his appalling behaviour to appellant and his appalling decisions … DWP are the NAZI Youth of the 1940s alive n well on DWP appeals in England n Wales !!! MURDERERS they are

  2. I’ve had my DLA stopped and I may not be able to get PIP despite having Mild Learning Difficulties and being diagnosed with ADHD at school plus having a kidney out this PIP thing should be stopped and DLA brought back because how can them people who asses you know the real you when the appointment is less than hour even your bosses at work know you better and even friends on Social Media know you better

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