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Disabled man’s body found six months after the DWP cut off his benefits

22 September 2022

The body of a Disabled man was discovered by police officers in his derelict home six months after his benefits were cut off by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), the Disability News Service (DNS) reports.

In circumstances similar to those of other claimants whose deaths have been linked to DWP failings over the last decade, his benefits had been removed following unsuccessful attempts to contact him after he failed to turn up for a jobcentre appointment.

An independent review into his death, which also examined the failings of other public bodies that had dealings with him, criticised the failure of DWP and other agencies to investigate why he had not kept appointments.

The review into the death of the man, known only as E, was carried out on behalf of Telford and Wrekin Safeguarding Adults Board (TWSAB) and was DNS following a freedom of information request.

The circumstances of the man’s death have not previously been reported, DNS understands.

E died sometime between October 2016 and early 2017, at the age of 43, but the safeguarding adults review was not ratified by the board until September 2019 and a short summary of the report was published quietly in February 2020.

The review said that both DWP and local mental health services had followed their policies on dealing with service-users who do not attend meetings, but various agencies failed to exercise any “professional curiosity” into what had happened to E.

Had they done so, “further investigations may have occurred”.

The review found that E’s failure to attend appointments or respond to letters and phone calls was not considered or responded to “appropriately”.

The board called for DWP and other agencies to review their “do not attend” policies and procedures “to ensure they are proportionate and fit for purpose”.

DNS says that the DWP’s failure to show “professional curiosity” when a claimant with a history of mental distress does not attend a meeting in connection with their benefits has echoes of the death of Errol Graham.

He also had his benefits stopped after failing to attend a meeting and not responding to subsequent visits and communication from DWP.

Errol Graham starved to death after DWP stopped his employment and support allowance in October 2017, leaving him without any income.

E’s benefits were halted about a year earlier, in October 2016, but it is not clear from the safeguarding review what state his finances were in at this stage, although he is believed to have lost his entitlement to personal independence payment (PIP).

As with Errol Graham, it is possible that E was left with no money and starved to death, or that he took his own life, although the review concludes that he “most probably died of natural causes”.

An inquest into E’s death produced an open verdict because of the length of time between E’s death and the discovery of his body, and the safeguarding adults review concluded that it was “reasonable to assume that E’s death was not directly predictable or, therefore, preventable”.

DNS asked the DWP what action it took in response to the safeguarding adults review, including whether it reviewed its “do not attend” policies, how this related to any changes made to its policies after the death of Errol Graham, and whether it carried out an internal process review into E’s death.

But a DWP spokesperson said: “This is clearly a sad case and our sincere condolences are with this individual’s family.

“Due to the anonymity of the individual concerned we cannot comment on the case directly.”

Only an executive summary of the Safeguarding Adult Review report has been published online.

Source and for the full story see Disabled man’s body found six months after DWP cut off his benefits available from disabilitynewsservice.com.

See also our relate news story Secret reviews into DWP deaths have more than doubled in three years.