Disabled claimant from Barking starved for 10 days over benefits advice
PUBLISHED: 07:00 28 June 2016
A man with learning difficulties contemplated suicide over fears his benefits could stop.
Confused by advice from the Citizens Advice Bureau, 40-year-old Simon Beadle didn’t eat for 10 days for fear of using money he wasn’t entitled to.
Simon was warned by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) his Employment and Support Allowance could be affected if he didn’t complete a questionnaire he hadn’t received despite requesting it “countless” times, with the fear causing him to leave £1,138.28 sitting in his account.
“I’m not sure what the hell’s gone on,” Simon, of Tresham Road, Barking, said. “It’s literally left me calling the Samaritans helpline. I was down, depressed and ready to top myself – that’s the way it left me feeling.”
After receiving his first warning in May, Simon visited Barking CAB in Ripple Road. Struggling to understand the DWP warning, Simon showed an advisor the letter, which states his active benefit payments “may be affected” if a mental health questionnaire is not returned by June 20. The advisor claimed he wouldn’t be paid until he returned the questionnaire, leading Simon to believe he’d been paid in error.
“I’m a slow learner,” he said. “I’m slow to pick up what someone wants me to do. If it’s something I have to read I can read it but understanding it’s a different matter altogether. That’s where I need help.”
Worried about breaking the law, Simon was too scared to pay for the bus to Romford’s Queen’s Hospital to see 76-year-old mum Daphne Beadle, who suffered a stroke on June 3.
A spokeswoman for the CAB said client confidentiality prevents it from discussing individual cases.
But a DWP spokesman said it was working with Simon to correct the error, after more than 11 weeks of failing to deliver the questionnaire.
“It’s important that people claiming Employment Support Allowance receive all the support and benefits they are entitled to,” he said. “We have invited Mr Beadle into Barking Jobcentre to help him fill out the form.”