Benefits withdrawn after dad’s ‘death’

First published in News

A WIDOWER has received a grovelling apology from the Department of Work and Pensions after it wrote to his family to say he had died.

Ian Walker was left “shocked and disgusted” when he opened the letter, addressed to his carer and step-son, Matthew Walker, offering condolences for his step-father’s death.

The letter, dated February 4, stated: “I am sorry to hear that Ian Michael Walker has passed away. Please accept out sincere condolences.”

The DWP then followed up with a second letter to Matthew, also dated February 4, telling him he would no longer receive the £58.45 a week he had received for looking after his step-father.

Bosses from the DWP have said they are very sorry and will contact Mr Walker to apologise further.

Mr Walker, aged 48, of Bradford Street, The Haulgh, suffers from the lung condition, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which is severely debilitating.

He said: “When I first opened it I was just shocked — you could have knocked me down with a feather. I couldn’t believe it and I just said to my friend: ‘I’m dead, according to this letter’.

“I suffer with bad mental health problems and this nearly tipped me over the edge. Luckily, I had a friend there to calm me down.”

Matthew had been living with Mr Walker and acting as his carer.

But just before Christmas, he moved out of the house and into his own home in New Lane, Breightmet, and Mr Walker’s friend and neighbour, Margaret Bathgate, became his carer.

She helps with his mobility issues and his other health problems.

As soon as Mr Walker opened the letter — because his son had moved out — he contacted the DWP to demand an explanation.

He was told there was no record of the letter being sent by the Disability and Carers Service.

Mr Walker added: “Me and my son hadn’t spoken since he had moved out on Christmas Eve but he was very upset about the letter and the fact I asked whether he had told them I was dead. It was terrible for me to have to ask him that.

“I just want to know where the information has come from and nobody is telling me anything. I’m disgusted that something like this has been sent out and I wouldn’t want it to happen to anyone else.”

Mr Walker, who’s wife died of a brian haemorrhage in 2010, said he had informed the DWP of his change in circumstances in the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

His step-son moved in as his carer at the flat in Bradford Street for five months.

A DWP spokesman said: “We are very sorry for the error and are contacting Mr Walker to apologise for any upset caused.”

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