The Same Difference blog, sharing this story, asks:
“Is Annette Francis the first known person to die as a result of the PIP backlog?
“Readers, we must share her story as widely as we can. No one else can die for this reason.”
Here’s the story:
A woman overdosed in a ‘cry for help’ after a Government backlog saw her deprived of benefits for six months, an inquest heard.
Annette Francis, 30, struggled to survive on the bread line and was potentially owed hundreds of pounds in welfare payments when she died.
She filed for disability living allowance (DLA) last September only to be told by the Department for Work and Pensions that benefit had been overhauled and was now called PIP – Personal Independence Payment.
Promises were made to pay Annette, but the money never arrived.
Eleanor, who suffered from depression and had a personality disorder, took the overdose while publishing on Facebook about how miserable she was, in a ‘cry for help’, a coroner ruled.
Her aunt, Ann Sorotos, 61, said: “Annette was really struggling. She was asking the job centre what the hold up was, but they kept talking of a backlog.
“I hate this Government and what they are doing to this country. I hate they’ve done to my niece. They are partly to blame.
“We don’t want this to happen to other people. Let’s hope Annette is the last person to die in this situation.
“People with mental health issues should be made a priority by the Department for Work and Pensions. They can’t cope with daily life let alone pages after page of forms.
“Annette was begging for help. There needs to be better communication from this Government to help people in need. Not just one letter and then telling us there’s a backlog.
“That’s not good enough.”
The inquest heard police were contacted by a friend of Annette’s on May 22 after she sent him text messages which caused him concern.
Coroner Andre Rebello said: “Clearly Annette was making no secret as to what she was doing.
“I think it is more likely than not that she has taken this medication because of problems she lived with and her taking the medication was some way of perhaps exaggerating her pain and internal suffering to try and communicate that to others with regard to being some, clearly inappropriate, but some cry for help.”
But the DWP said it was the applicant’s responsibility to make a claim and money could not be backdated.
Annette, who was receiving Employment Support Allowance payments, was found in her bedsit in Garston, Liverpool, in May.
Her MP, Maria Eagle said: “The DWP should get their act together on PIP as soon as possible because frequently people like Annette are in no position to look after their own interests as well as those in good health may be able to.”
A DWP spokesman said: “We are committed to getting PIP claims processed as quickly as possible.”
It simply isn’t good enough, is it? Ministers know these people rely on benefits for their very lives, but don’t care that claims are being processed too slowly – all to keep expenditure down.
It would be different if they were personally liable for every tragedy.
Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike
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