DWP to apologise to woman whose brother killed himself after his benefits were cut

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DWP to apologise to woman whose brother killed himself after his benefits were cut

THE GUARDIAN
THE GUARDIAN 03 DECEMBER 2015 16:35 GMT

Health service ombudsman partially upholds Linda Cooksey’s complaint over case of her late brother, Tim Salter

Karen McVeigh

A woman whose partially sighted brother killed himself after his benefits were cut is to receive an apology from the Department for Work and Pensions, after the health service ombudsman partially upheld her complaint about his case.

It marks the end of a two-year battle for Linda Cooksey, 60, who believes her late brother, Tim Salter, 53, a recluse with undiagnosed mental health problems, should never have been found fit for work by DWP assessors.

Salter, described by his sister as a lovely man, killed himself in September 2013, nine months after his benefits were stopped and being left almost penniless, facing eviction. A coroner ruled that a major factor in his death was that his benefits were greatly reduced leaving him almost destitute.

Related: Thousands have died after being found fit for work, DWP figures show

“I’m pleased they have partially upheld my complaint” said Cooksey, an insurance consultant from Stourbridge. “It’s not the outcome I wanted and I’m still awaiting the apology from the DWP, but the worst is over now and I feel I have closure.”

The ruling follows a report last month which linked fit-for-work tests carried out between 2010 and 2013 with extra suicides and mental ill health. The DWP have said it has worked with medical health experts and charities to make significant improvements to the work capability assessment (WCA), as well as giving additional support to those with mental health issues.

Cooksey first raised concerns when her brother disclosed a previous suicide attempt in 1989, which left him partially sighted. This should have raised alarm bells and triggered further investigation into his mental state when he revealed it during his WCA in 2012, she said.

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