The family of a disabled mum who killed herself after her benefits were stopped have called for officials to be prosecuted over their failings.
Young grandmother Jodey Whiting, 42, tragically took her own life in February 2017, reports Teeside Live .
An inquest heard her benefits were stopped because she missed a health review – despite her never seeing the appointment letter.
Now the conduct of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) before and after the suicide of the tragic mum-of-nine is set to be investigated.
But it will be two-and-a-half years after her death that Jodey’s heartbroken family will get answers about the conduct of the DWP.
She had been plagued with ill health and the DWP were made aware of those issues by the Citizen’s Advice Bureau a week before she took her own life.
Her health issues, which included a brain cyst and curved spine, meant she could barely make it through the front door of her home in Stockton, Teeside.
Jodey’s family blamed pressure from the DWP for her death at an inquest into her death last May, and since then her mum Joy Dove has continued to battle the government in her daughter’s memory.
She has pushed for her complaints to be passed to the Independent Case Examiner (ICE) – who investigate alleged wrongdoing by the Government department.
That body has now accepted the complaint and will investigate.
But a letter addressed to Joy says that due to a huge backlog of complaints, it could be up to 16 months before the probe begins.
Jodey’s mum Joy, said: “To have to wait another 16 months is devastating, but we can’t do anything about the fact there are so many cases that need investigating.
“I’m glad they’ve taken the case on. We will always fight for justice for my daughter.
“She has kids and grandchildren left without a mum, and I’ve been left without a daughter. I want to make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else.”
She had been told to attend a health assessment on January 16 last year, but missed it as she was in hospital with a brain cyst and knew nothing of the appointment.
On February 6, the DWP ruled Jodey had not provided sufficient evidence and stopped her benefits. Jodey raised concerns about the decision on February 10 and made a formal appeal on the 13th.
She committed suicide on February 21, before a different decision make ruled on February 25 that despite extra evidence, her claim should still be closed.
This message was delivered in a voicemail to Jodey’s phone after she died. The DWP has apologised to Joy for delivering the message – despite being told of her death.
Joy has also started a ‘Justice for Jodey’ petition , with the aim of persuading the DWP to look again at how it handles benefit claims.
Joy said that messages of support there have helped her as she struggles to overcome her grief: “We’ll never stop battling. The messages I get on the petition, and from people who have been in similar situations, are incredible.”
A DWP spokesperson said: “We apologise to Ms Whiting’s family for the failings in how we handled her case and the distress this caused them. Our thoughts are with them at this difficult time and we are providing compensation.
"We fully accept the Independent Case Examiner’s findings and are reviewing our procedures to ensure this doesn’t happen again.”
If you need to speak to someone, Samaritans are available 24/7 by calling 116 123 or by emailing [email protected]
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