Grandfather took his own life because DWP said he’d been overpaid – but wouldn’t reveal the amount

Dale Ballentine, left, with his father Jimmy who took his own life earlier this year. They are pictured with Jimmy’s daughter Clare’s twin sons.

Chalk up another death to the Department for Work and Pensions.

At this time of heightened terror alert, it is worth pointing out that – including the fatalities in Manchester on Monday – the total number of deaths from terror attacks in the UK since 2010 is 35.

The DWP notched up 2,400 deaths of Employment and Support Allowance claimants alone, between the beginning of December 2011 and the end of May 2014.

And the deaths are still happening. Jimmy Ballentine suffered from depression and other mental health issues. After the DWP told him he had been overpaid benefit because he had too much money in savings, it would have been important to tell him the exact situation and offer advice on how to solve it, before it affected his medical condition.

But the DWP didn’t bother. Mr Ballentine was left waiting – with tragic consequences.

We all know what the DWP response to any inquiries would be: “Any suicide is a tragedy and the reasons for them are complex, however it would be inaccurate and misleading to link it solely to a person’s benefit claim.”

The fact that it can be linked to a benefit claim at all should be enough to damn the Department and everybody in it.


The grieving family of a former coal miner who took his own life after being investigated by benefit fraud officers believe he would still be here if he had been told him how much money he needed to repay.

James ‘Jimmy’ Ballentine overdosed on prescription drugs on the day of his twin grandsons’ fourth birthday earlier this year – leaving beside him a suicide note to loved ones.

The proud 60-year-old had months earlier learned he had over-claimed benefits from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) after receiving a letter from the Fraud Investigation Team.

The father-of-two, who suffered from depression and other mental health issues including schizophrenia, was told he had been over-claiming for a decade.

It is understood Mr Ballentine made efforts to find out how much money he owed but was unable to get an answer.

Source: Heartbreaking last words of Consett grandfather who took his life after DWP investigation (From The Northern Echo)

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12 thoughts on “Grandfather took his own life because DWP said he’d been overpaid – but wouldn’t reveal the amount

  1. Brian

    This tragic case of Mr Ballentine illustrates a growing number of victims of this government. Figures of DWP induced suicide abound, but many, while meritable, are produced by organisations with a bias.

    Statisticians use a euphemism called the ‘Dark’ figure, to approximate the ‘true’ number of instances, often of crime, that relate to a known figure, and is accepted as a reliable quantification. No doubt the DWP is fully aware of quantitative methods as this, but of course would never subject it’self (publicly) to such examination.

    An accredited academic examination may enlighten the population with the facts, leaving the DWP to disprove it’s findings. A difficult job, but perhaps one a Phd student may be challenged by, and hold these politicians to account.

  2. hugosmum70

    this is where unemployed workers centres and other organisations used to be at their best. helping people in these situations. but now where does anyone go for help? CAB are overwhelmed these days, you cant get them on the phone yet if you go to their office your told to go home and phone for an appointment. or they have 1-2 open door sessions a week where you can sit doing nothing all day among loads of others and be lucky if you get seen.. with so many needing advice/help/ yet unemployed workers centres etc either have closed or no longer do actual benefits work due to lack of funding. (thanks to the Tory’s).
    just had truck with 2 other types of organisations. was told they are brilliant. we didnt find them so. someone who had been given notice to quit the 2 bed house she had rented for 12 years. finally after 6 weeks was given the option of taking a 1 bed ground floor flat for herself and 3 pets(2 cats one old dog),. she had to decide on the day of looking at it. there and then whether to take it or not . she said yes.then was told tenancy begins on monday(this was around 4pm the previous wednesday so 5 days with a weekend in among those 6 days. ) fine. family (all on benefits or pensions) are helping her pay an extra weeks rent. no manpower as such to help with packing, moving larger pieces of furniture. Carpets and cooker belong to the house. so new carpets*(weve managed to get her one with a bit over that will fit the hall.) but we approached one organisation for help with getting a cooker (this woman has a medical condition which means she must eat proper meals. plenty of red meat. she cant eat ready/microwave meals. but cos she has a microwave they wont provide her with a cooker and even if they did would have been a table top one(to fit a very tiny kitchen with big gap for normal cooker but no surface for a table top one. the rings of which would be too high for her. removal fees? because its taken so long for her and her family to pack up for her(and still some to do and we have only thuersday and friday to do that in..(and shes takin me to see an oral surgeon tomorrow lunchtime about a small growth in my mouth which i have appointment for) leaves us with only part of thursday plus friday. removal is 11.30am saturday…. those helping consists of 75 yr old mum with numerous disabilities. 70 yr old aunt. a stroke victim.also with a number of disabilities. a brother with fibromyalgia can only deal with dismantling pc/tv etc. cousin whose a dyalisis patient whose had 2 heart attacks n cant lift.hes doing the driving between the 2 places taking the pets down etc and a neice whose 5 months pregnant. and with only a few days to go to moving day… we found 2 men with a van willing to do it for £80 but she cant get help to pay it cos they insist she gets 3 estimates from registered removal firms (who all charge in the hundreds to move even 1 mile).post them and an application form(downloadable if you have a pc and printer tough if you dont.will take x number of days to get one to yu.) all of which will take her into middle of next week at least and another weeks rent to pay even tho she is eligible for housing they would rather pay £300-400 than £80/ so mother is having to find that £80 from an already stretched credit card and overdraft facility having already paid out to replace sette bed and 1 carpet plus new curtain poles and rails plus taxi fares to take her to her daughters. to take stuff to the new place, so they could get measurements for windows n carpets. she needs a chest of drawers (the others have to be left as too big for the flat. but she has to hav something to sit on and to sleep curtains for privacy. windows in her 2 bed terrace were much narrower than most in this flat and lounge one is a massive picture window……. so where is the help for this woman? yet these places cry out theyve only limited funds. no wonder if they are paying out collossal moving fees like that.
    sorry for going on but buerocracy is a downhill trail. there to frustrate and stop people getting a decent place( rental fees in private rents through estate agents are ridiculous. application fees being first on the list. i could go on .this has been a real eye opener to us bel;ieve me.

  3. Peter Rose

    The government has smashed into the disabled and benefit claimants…… pensioners beware there coming for you next stand up against this government

  4. Peter michele

    The DWP are a typical corrupt government department. I threatened them with legal action & they paid me a £1000

  5. Donald Magnay

    This government has got to go or else they will have Carter blanched to carry on ruining lives!

  6. Donald Magnay

    This government has got to go or else it will have carte blanche to carry on ruining lives!

  7. Edward hannan

    Not fit for purpose 79.000 workers who are really out of control . It’s needs organisation they don’t really care . One huge cover up ..

  8. Tom Zee

    This is nothing less than state sponsored government genocide on the genuinely disabled people. With the DWP as the Gestapo headquarters and Atos & maximus being the SS arm of them both. With the media propaganda machine who’s focus should be on the bankers who caused the 2008 crash. Then bailed out to the tune of £2.6 trillion. But instead Mr Cameron decided to blame the innocent disabled people to turn attention away from the real criminals. A big Fu you is well in order here. Very sad and stupid folk running the show. I feel sick just having to write about this subject.

  9. colleenanne

    I feel heartily sorry for the ballentine family its a struggle at the best of times I no I been on ESA several times and then told to go on job seekers I have a bad back which at some points I struggle to get up. I feel DWP some times don’t look at some situations and because we ask for help I always feel like I’m begging. I have a bininne tumor iny spine but when DWP ask me to go back on job seekers they are all ways there to help alcholis and druggys but you you need help totally different thing god bless the poor man he must of had some real bad issues to take his own life I just hope you get some closeser

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