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Philippa Day death: family launches legal challenge against DWP

10 May 2021

The family of Philippa Day, who had a personality disorder and who died from a deliberate overdose after her benefits were wrongly cut off, is to seek compensation from the Government.

An inquest concluded in January 2021 that authorities made 28 errors in managing her case and that her experience with the system was a “stressor” in her decision to take the overdose.

The assistant coroner issued a so-called Prevention of Future Death (PFD) report to the DWP and private contractor Capita, requiring them to explain what action they might take to improve.

That was the fourth PFD sent to the DWP by coroners since 2013.

Ms Day’s family says that the handling of the case by the DWP and Capita, the private firm to carries out some benefits assessments, was negligent and breached Day’s human rights.

The DWP and Capita have three months to respond and if a settlement cannot be reached, the family is expected to sue for compensation in the high court.

Imogen Day, Philippa’s sister, said the benefits system had made her sister feel “inhuman” and powerless during the last few months of her life:“It was like watching a car crash in slow motion … we helped her emotionally, financially and practically and we could see the tragedy in front of us but couldn’t do anything more to stop it.”

The DWP faces two other court challenges over its handling of the benefit system.

The family of Errol Graham, 57, who was found starved to death in 2018 after his benefits were withdrawn, is to appeal after a court turned down their attempt to force changes to the benefits safeguarding system.

The family of Jodey Whiting, 42, who took her own life in 2017 after her benefits were stopped, will ask the high court for a second inquest into her death. The family won permission to go to court after an independent inquiry found several failings in the DWP’s handling of the case.

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