Son of OAP who jumped to death after DWP mistake left her with £5 breaks silence

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  • 22:19, 9 MAY 2019
  • Updated22:31, 9 MAY 2019

The son of a gran who killed herself after her pension was wrongly stopped in a benefits bungle said "the pain of her death will never go away".

Joy Worrall, 81, did not receive a single penny for 18 months due to a Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) mix-up.

Instead of turning to her family and friends for help, proud Joy ran through her £5,000 life savings.

She was down to her last £5 with no hope of any more to come when she threw herself into a 40ft deep quarry.

Devastated son Ben, 44, said: “I’ve lost my mum who was in a fit and healthy state. The pain will never go away.”

He told the Mirror after the inquest yesterday: “The DWP has a case to answer.

"There’s some element of duty of care they’re meant to perform for vulnerable people in society. That has not been carried out, by their own admission.

“I don’t blame the people at the DWP – people make mistakes.

"But they have a duty of care to put a system in place where this cannot happen.”

The inquest heard Ben, who spoke to his mum up to four times a week, found she was missing from her North Wales cottage last November. A police search was launched and her body was found the next day at the quarry near her home in Rhes-y-Cae, Flintshire.

It later emerged that divorcee Joy, who had been receiving a state pension and pension credits, had told the DWP in 2014 that she had received an inheritance, although it was not a large amount.

She was assured the money would not affect her, but in July 2017 “action was taken to suspend her pension credit”.

And instead of her state pension continuing while the credits were reviewed, “an administrative error” led to all her payments being stopped.

Joy, who had worked in the drawing office at the former De Havilland aircraft factory in Hawarden, used to collect her pension every week from her local post office. When her son contacted the post office about her pension after her death, he was stunned to discover she had not collected it for more than a year.

Mrs Worrall had not told him of her troubles and seemed not to have queried her frozen payments with the DWP as there was no record of correspondence.

Ben told her inquest in Ruthin that his mum had only £5 in her account when she died, having spent her life savings.

Suzanne Mitchelson of the DWP admitted the two pensions should have been “decombined” and her basic pension continued. She wrote to Ben: “I am sorry to say that due to an administrative error this did not happen.”

The inquest heard Mrs Worrall had previously said she would throw herself off the quarry if she ended up with any major health or financial worries. North Wales East and Central coroner John Gittins recorded a conclusion of suicide.

Later Ben, from Rhosemor, said: “My mum was an extremely proud lady who obviously didn’t want to cause a fuss or be a burden. She couldn’t tell her son and best friend she had some issues with money.

"She felt uncomfortable taking money from the state anyway. I feel we’ve been let down by the DWP, who have failed in their duty of care.”

The DWP said they have reimbursed Mrs Worrall’s estate with the state pension money she should have received.

And action had been taken to ensure no-one else suffers the same way.

A DWP spokesperson said:“Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Mrs Worrall. We apologise unreservedly to Mrs Worrall’s family for the error that led to her pension payments being stopped.

“We have reviewed our processes and acted so that benefits are no longer linked on our systems, to try to ensure this could not happen again.”

Charity Age Cymru said: “We urge anyone who is suddenly faced with a life-changing incident, such as a sudden drop in income, to seek help from support charities such as Age Cymru or speak to a friend or a trusted relative.”

If you need to speak to someone, Samaritans are available 24/7 by calling 116 123

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