This is a nasty story.
But it is all-too-common when the DWP and local councils want to wheedle their way out of responsibility for a death.
It seems Mr Neacey lost his job in 2011 and started drinking heavily. This suggests depression, which is a mental illness – and nobody seems to have spotted it or offered help at the appropriate time.
He was claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance, which means it would have been the responsibility of the Department for Work and Pensions to ensure that he was fit for work – or advise him to claim Employment and Support Allowance. We can say this with certainty because it is what eventually happened – too late to do any good.
Instead, his health was allowed to deteriorate to the point at which he developed diabetes and needed an operation on his liver – and all the while, his Job Centre was telling him he was fit for work.
Because of his ill health, he failed to meet the requirement to actively seek work – but the DWP refused to accept that this was due to ill health and cut off his benefit altogether.
Assessors eventually relented and allowed him to claim ESA – just three weeks before he died of chronic liver failure.
Does nobody else find that suspicious?
Meanwhile, Brent Council had also been on Mr Neacey’s case because, having had his JSA cut off – wrongly – he was no longer eligible for Housing Benefit (except he should have been receiving ESA and housing benefit, of course).
So he fell into arrears with his rent – which must have added more pressure to his already-strained health.
Brent Council tells us Mr Neacey had been supported by a range of services and charitable agencies including, at one point, a home carer who visited three times a week.
And not one of these stopped to consider whether Mr Neacey’s health was in serious peril or raised the alarm that it could be?
Yet suddenly, just before he died, this man was put in receipt of ESA, meaning he would have been able to claim HB again. Just before he died.
This story reveals a catalogue of errors by DWP staff and by Brent Council, yet neither seems prepared to take responsibility for their part in the eventual death.
Instead of spotting his mental health problem, putting him on the appropriate benefit and arranging treatment for it, both these authorities persecuted him into an early grave.
Neither has shown the slightest contrition.
They should be admitting their mistakes, in failing to identify Mr Neacey’s problems and deal with them.
They should be promising appropriate treatment of those responsible for these errors – treatment that should be demonstrably carried out.
They should both be promising to revise their procedures to ensure that events like these never happen again – not just the council.
And they should apologise – not for the concerns of Mr Neacey’s relatives, but for making his life so difficult that it ended prematurely.
Instead, they offer mealy-mouthed platitudes and vague promises that all-too-often lead to unsatisfactory conclusions.
And you can bet this has been happening all over the UK.
A dying resident in Willesden had his benefits stopped after he was declared fit for work just weeks before he passed away.
Ricky Neacey was forced to fight the decision by the Department of Work and Pensions to axe his Jobseekers allowance before it finally did a U-turn and accepted his health was failing.
The 52-year-old, who lived in a bedsit in Park Avenue, was eventually allowed to claim Employment Support Allowance (ESA), which is given to people who are deemed too ill to work, three weeks before dying from chronic liver failure.
Mark Neacey has slammed the ‘shameful’ treatment of his brother in his final weeks.
He told the Times: “My brother started drinking heavily after losing his job in 2011 and became lonely and depressed.
“His health was so poor that he had developed diabetes and was requiring a liver operation yet Ricky was receiving mail from the unemployment office in Brent declaring him fit for work and telling him he would have his benefits stopped unless he actively sought work.
“It’s shameful that they treat a person especially someone as sick, ailing and depressed as my brother like this.”
At the time of his death Mr Neacey had accrued rent arrears as Brent Council had stopped his Housing Benefit payments after the DWP alerted them to his benefits being axed.
A council spokesman said Mr Neacey was supported by a range of different public services and charitable agencies offering him support and was at one stage provided with a home carer three times a day though his care package was later reviewed.
He added: “We’re sorry to learn of Mr Neacey’s relatives’ concerns, which of course we take very seriously. We’re now conducting a review of the support we offered to him, and will offer to meet with family members to discuss this.”
A spokesman for the DWP said: “Our thoughts are with Mr Neacey’s family.
“The local Jobcentre Plus was supporting Mr Neacey and when he died he was receiving ESA following his adviser’s advice to make a claim.”
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