Universal Credit claims another life – and the Tory-run DWP is still making excuses

Phillip Herron and his children: What will happen to them, now that Universal Credit-driven poverty has pushed him into taking his own life?

It is criminal. Civil servants from the Department for Work and Pensions might as well have killed Phillip Herron themselves:

A debt-ridden single dad of three who had waited weeks for Universal Credit took his own life — with just £4.61 left in his bank account.

Phillip Herron, 34, was trying to feed and clothe his family while out of work, falling behind with rent and trying to repay £20,000 debts — including payday loans of over 1,000 per cent interest.

He applied for government help but the month-long wait for Universal Credit drove him deeper into debt.

“That was the final nail in his coffin,” said his grieving mum Sheena Derbyshire, 54.

“When people turn to the Government for help they’re already desperate. To make them wait so long for payments is dangerous.”

But the DWP is still making excuses:

“Suicide is a very complex issue, so it would be wrong to link it solely to someone’s benefit claim.

“We are committed to safeguarding vulnerable claimants and keep guidance under constant review to provide the highest standard of protection.”

This is not true.

In fact, the DWP has been found to have ignored its own safeguarding rules whenever it suits that government department to do so – and if benefit claimants die, nobody cares.

Consider the case of Jodey Whiting. The DWP failed to follow its own safeguarding rules no less than five times in the weeks leading to her suicide in February 2017.

The DWP also destroyed a report on other safeguarding failures – in only 18 London job centres – rather than allow it to become public after a Freedom of Information request was submitted for its release.

After Ms Whiting’s death, and the failures that were identified, the Department for Work and Pensions should have done everything possible to ensure that nobody else was driven to suicide. That has not happened. Relatives of the deceased just get a message of false sympathy and an excuse.

Responsibility for Mr Herron’s death, ultimately, lies with Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd and with the DWP’s Permanent Secretary, top civil servant Peter Schofield.

How long must we wait until they are held to account for it?

Source: Single dad with just £4.61 took own life after waiting weeks for Universal Credit – Mirror Online

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  1. trev July 21, 2019 at 11:48 am - Reply

    Tragic. I’m not on Universal Credit yet, still clinging on to JSA, and I don’t have any kids to feed, but I currently have just 25p in my Bank account until Friday. Got a small amount of food and about a quid in loose change so I’ll get through the coming week, just.

    • Jeanie July 22, 2019 at 11:54 am - Reply

      Fell your pain have 2pence in my account

      • trev July 22, 2019 at 12:24 pm - Reply

        The added complication is that I’m beginning a 3 days training course tomorrow (FLT) and I have no money for bus fares or lunch. Bugger.

  2. wildswimmerpete July 21, 2019 at 4:48 pm - Reply

    Any decent government would legislate against those payday sharks but of course they have Tory backers. It’s possible that the dad was tipped into suicide by those usurers. My condolences to his family.

  3. Mark Rees July 21, 2019 at 5:15 pm - Reply

    Universal Credit is possibly the worst solution to benefit payments ever, even Thatcher’s government couldn’t come up with such an unfair system of payment and they cooked the books with the unemployment figures.
    I’m a carer with my mother suffering from dementia and I receive £333 on the 20th of the month.
    I have just had a payment and after paying my bills I am penniless and that’s 2 days after getting paid.
    Universal Credit is also a way for the government to save money as you don’t get any more money when you have a 5 week month.

    • trev July 21, 2019 at 6:59 pm - Reply

      Apparently it was Tony Blair who first set the ball rolling on Welfare reforms when he asked David Freud to rip up the rule book on Social Security, Freud went on to jump ship joined the Tories and carried on doing the same job, with the fanatical IDS as his frontman and public face of Welfare reform, aided and abetted by Osborne and Cameron. And between the lot of them (all Millionaires) what a monumental mess they have made, all entirely deliberately of course. Many thousands have died as a result, more than in any Terrorist attack.

      • Mike Sivier July 21, 2019 at 8:29 pm - Reply

        Peter Lilley, if I recall correctly, when he invited Unum into the then Department of Social Security in the early 1990s. Look up Unum in this site’s search box.

        • trev July 21, 2019 at 10:03 pm - Reply


          It was certainly under New Labour that I personally first recall Sanctions being used, as part of the ‘New Deal’ (which I got forced on several times), though Sanctions may have been in the legislature for many years prior to that (there’s actually an old George Formby film where his character gets Sanctioned!)

      • trev July 21, 2019 at 9:50 pm - Reply

        Yes, that is certainly related and it predates Blair and Freud , and does seem to be the origin of welfare reform particularly as it relates to WCA and the inroad of private companies into the issues surrounding fitness to work.

        I was thinking more of Freud’s contribution as referenced in this Torygraph article from ten years ago:


  4. rashida begum July 21, 2019 at 10:24 pm - Reply

    iv been trying to take my life am in same situation as this guy.. single parent with 3 kids.. universal credit has destroyed my life.. i dont want to be alive anymore but i keep holding on coz i cannot get myself to go ahead with taking my life… when is this government gonna step in …when so many people taking their lives..😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭

    • Mike Sivier July 22, 2019 at 8:48 am - Reply

      Don’t do it!
      There are plenty of people and organisations who are willing and able to help you out. Have you spoken with Citizens’ Advice, just to get started?

      • trev July 22, 2019 at 9:50 am - Reply

        Mike is right, DON’T Do IT!!! The CAB helped me to sort out my debts via a Debt Relief Order for Insolvency (it’s kinda like bankruptcy but for individuals). Go see your GP about Depression /Anxiety etc. Tell them you feel like you can’t cope. You might get a few months on the sick and some meds, maybe counselling or therapy.

  5. Mike July 22, 2019 at 10:19 am - Reply

    Neighbour 62 years old, scarred lungs from abspestoss (something tory govt let go on for too long) thrombosis and and dodgy heart, gets told by doctor that he should stop working, Ignores doctor as he does not no anything else and collapses at work.. So he takes doctors advice and puts in a claim for Esa, assessment does not even put him in work group and says he should claim jsa despite, the fact doctors say he should not work as it will kill him. Goes to work for 4 weeks non stop, can’t handle it and stops, JSA pile on the pressure to go back to work.. Knock at my door late at night, had to rush in, I was doing cpr for 15 minutes and sadly we lost him, he had a heart attack why eating… Muderers

  6. Jeanie July 22, 2019 at 11:52 am - Reply

    Had to wait 3 months for universal credit and have been waiting 5 months for ESA no wonder when people are ill they feel there is no tlother way out a dont know how much they expect us to take my heart goes out to anyone with kids a dont know how you would cope think they are trying to cull the population of ill sick and disabled .

    • trev July 22, 2019 at 12:28 pm - Reply

      It really does seem like Welfare reforms are a cull of the poor . The millionaires who meddle in peoples’ lives have no clue how the poor live, and they don’t care.

  7. Rubel Ahmed July 22, 2019 at 11:19 pm - Reply

    EVERYONE I beg of you please do not take your own life !! Not only do you destroy your own life but those of your dearest love one’s, family members and friends too. Times are really, really tough for everyone so please get support from your family members, friends and get support and advise from your local GP/Doctor’s too. I pray we all help and support each other regardless of our faith or color otherwise we are not worthy to be called a human race ! DWP should be disgusted of all their actions ! The MP’s who support benefit cuts should be disgusted of their actions ! The UK Government has allowed and is spending billions on new train networks in the UK while people have no food or a roof over their head, WHY !!

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