Fears over benefits led to tragedy
Last updated at 11:41, Friday, 28 December 2012
A “VULNERABLE’’ disabled man who took his own life felt pressurised by changes to the benefits system, says his partner.
Christine Graham discovered Peter Hodgson dead at his home just a day after he received a text telling him to attend the Job Centre.
“After the text, he just said: ‘I give up’,” said Christine, who was with Peter for 13 years. “I didn’t realise then just what he meant.”
Mr Hodgson, 49, of Cleator Moor,was unable to work after he suffered a brain haemorrhage and a stroke and had his leg fused following a football injury. He had previous worked as a life-guard and at Brannan’s Thermometers.
“He was very vulnerable,’’ Christine said. “After the stroke he was not the same person and I would help to keep him going.’’
Last July, Peter was called into Whitehaven Job Centre to see whether he would be suitable for volunteer work. “I went with him as he was very worried,’’ Christine said. “Physically, his leg was fused and he struggled to move around. He couldn’t properly grip with his hand and was due to have a calliper fitted to his foot. You only had to look at Peter to realise he couldn’t work.
“He was terrified they would stop his money as he had four loans. He couldn’t handle stress and would worry.’’
Peter received the text on the afternoon of November 26. The message didn’t state a date but a subsequent letter was sent days after Peter’s death with an appointment for December 17.
Christine said Peter rang her the day he received the text. He sounded low and told her he was going to bed early. “I didn’t think anything of it,’’ she said. But the next day when she couldn’t contact him, Christine went to his home when she discovered his body.
“He didn’t plan to kill himself,’’ she said. “I believe the text triggered him. It was the fear of what would happen to him. I’ve been unemployed, and he would support me when I felt down.
“The government need to stop picking on the wrong people. Peter was not well enough to look after himself and I did his cooking and shopping. Now his life is over and it is too late.’’
Christine herself currently does three jobs because she does not want to claim benefits. “I understand they have to look into claimants, but not everyone is the same,’’ she said. “Some people are stronger than others. People need to understand just how vulnerable others are and treat them with respect. They are not just a number.’’
After Peter died, Christine was clearing his house when she found the Christmas presents he had bought her, including a ring which she now wears.
“I love Christmas and we always used to have a great time,’’ she added. “At the moment I just feel numb but I will have to keep going.’’
Work and Pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith has said he is determined to introduce radical reforms to disability benefits which will see more than two million claimants reassessed in the next four years. He said the number of claimants has risen by 30 per cent in recent years and it is estimated almost 80 percent are either fit for work immediately or in the future.
Under the reform plans, the existing benefit will be replaced with a simpler “more focused” allowance and only those medically assessed to be in genuine need of support will continue to qualify.
In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Mr Duncan Smith explained his department will now replace Disability Living Allowance (DLA) with a new benefit called Personal Independence Payment (Pip) which will have tighter criteria and a simpler approval system.
He said: “It’s like incapacity benefit, we’ve got to be careful because these are vulnerable people. There has been a lot of nonsense talked about it in the last few months, lots of letters asking about it. It’s now just beginning to seep in what we are doing. There are all sorts of scaremongering going on about how we are getting rid of it, slashing it, cutting it. The reality is that for the most part that’s not true.”
First published at 11:31, Friday, 28 December 2012
Published by http://www.whitehavennews.co.uk
Have your say
This is an inherently sick society that rewards hatred and greed, it uses fear to control, i am sick to DEATH of it, i want no part in it, but there is no viable alternative, which leaves me apathetic, depressed and angry, this state is not conducive to productivity, the government is shooting its own foot off if it really thinks these reforms are having any positive effect.
Looking down in contempt at people who are on their a**e for no other reason than being a product of their environment is a SICK mindset.
Try tackling the real cause of the country's never ending and ever surmounting debt, cut the federal reserve and print our own debt free money, tackle the inherent problems that come with fiat money, usury, fractional reserve banking and criminal banking cartels.
its history repeating itself with the torys in power, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. There was a big uproar when the mansion tax was proposed, the conservatives were quick to knock that down, but no problems with the bedroom tax on the poor.
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