Unnoticed health problems led to this man’s death. Did DWP and local council push him into an early grave?

This image of Ricky Neacey was taken in 1977 [Image: Brent & Kilburn Times].

This image of Ricky Neacey was taken in 1977 [Image: Brent & Kilburn Times].

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.”

Source: Seriously ill Willesden man had his benefits stopped after he was deemed ‘fit for work’ weeks before he died – News – Kilburn Times


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17 thoughts on “Unnoticed health problems led to this man’s death. Did DWP and local council push him into an early grave?

  1. jeffrey davies

    same replys from all we very sorry but yet aktion t4 rolls along without much of a ado

  2. Elspeth Parris

    And… nobody told him he could re-start his Housing Benefit claim on the basis of nil income. Housing Benefit should have continued through the whole sorry story! I’ve seen these stories far too often in the various advocacy groups – and anyone who asks in those groups always gets told immediately to go and get their Housing Benefit re-started, because nobody else had ever told them they could.

  3. Jenny Hambidge

    Whatever happened to ” Duty of Care”? I imagine the DWP has a duty, certainly the Local Authority does.

  4. Brian

    This is the Social Contract we all (should) have with our Government. We pay our taxes (around 70% Gross) we pay our National Insurance (around 20% Gross) we support charities. We observe the Law. We play by the rules, and this is the way we are paid back for our diligence. Is it equitable, is it fair, no, it’s not even reasonable, that ‘citizens’ of this country should be treated in such a manner. Especially while the disparity of earnings and wealth compounds the plight. If this is allowed to carry on people should fear for the future of this state. Patience is wearing thin and contempt is growing for these mealy mouthed politicians who claim to represent us. There seems no end in sight, despite the removal of those that openly practiced criminal acts on the electorate. Enough is enough, the UN should seize control from these political criminals, prosecute them through the Human Rights Act and force a general election before May can circumvent our protections.

  5. steve

    We know the DWP and council benefit officers are bullies who assume everybody but themselves are on the fiddle, but what was his GP doing?

  6. Louise Gardner

    I know I am commenting on a different subject to this very important article. Here goes: Back in April, I contacted all relevant police forces, reporting details of Tory MPs who had committed electoral fraud – using Channel 4 News etc. investigation
    stuff as my information. I don’t have any more precise evidence.
    West Midlands Police have asked me if they can visit me so I can make a statement
    re the 2015 Tory National Roadtrip Campaign. The MP involved here was Mike Wood
    (Dudley South), who, according to CH4 News, didn’t declare £1202 of expenses.
    (Incurred as a local expense). As I say, I don’t have material evidence, just this
    info from the media. I wrote to all the police forces exercising my citizen’s right/duty.
    Does anyone have any thoughts dealing with police in such a situation?
    Hopefully, this is relevant to the above article if it sanctions the Nasty Party.

  7. paulrutherford8

    I shudder to think how Ricky Neacey must have felt…

    People in jobs where they are able to affect people’s lives seriously need to be held accountable for the consequence of their decisions.

  8. Dez

    shameless local government and civil servants….where has all the humanity gone in this country. Apols to same servants if in fact this was the work of the infamous killer private contractors working on their behalf doing their dirty work.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      But then, why did they hire the private contractors (if they have done so)? To transfer guilt?

      1. Brian

        Private or not, the employment of a contractor carries a vicarious liability in law for the government’s action or inaction to preserve due care and diligence. The contractor and government carry equal guilt. Such cases are often settled with the inclusion of a non-disclosure clause, this is why you never – rarely hear of them. Only the those brave enough to examine their social conscience and refuse this gagging clause will enlighten the public to the real situation.

  9. Sam Ellis

    If this person didnt call to say he was unwell or indicated he was struggling to keep to his commitment with the job centre what can the dwp do? Im not saying they are great because they are far from it but if they are nit notified how can they act accordingly. Ive been claiming universal credit since december 2015, i suffer with depression, anxiety and other mobility related disabilities and only last week found out that im entitled to claim for a limited work capability element and a higher level of PIP than what im getting. So for 9months ive been getting a minimum of £126pm underpaid because my work coach and central office dont understand their jobs. It only became apparent that i was claiming the wrong benefit when i called the central office to inform them i had a sick note from my GP, thats when they realised i was claiming PIP aswell as universal credit (even though i told them from day 1 of my claim)

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      They would have been seeing him regularly and should have been able to spot his condition by his answers to questions and general demeanour. It really isn’t that hard.
      Look at your own situation. You lost money – I hope you’re demanding a repayment – because these people didn’t do their jobs properly. That’s a DWP failing, not yours.

      1. Brian

        I suspect many ‘mistakes’ are deliberate, so a claimant is forced to make a new claim, with all that entails.

Comments are closed.