For some background :
https://www.gazettelive.co.uk/news/tees ... c-14484231
DWP : Probe launched over tragic death of Jodey Whiting - but that could take 16 months
Young grandmother Jodey took her own life after her benefits were stopped when she missed appointment despite never seeing letter.
The conduct of the DWP before and after the suicide of a tragic mum-of-nine is set to be investigated.
But it will be two-and-a-half years after her death that Jodey Whiting’s heartbroken family will get answers about the conduct of the Department for Work and Pensions.
Young grandmother Jodey, 42, took her own life in February 2017.
An inquest heard her benefits were stopped because she missed a health review - despite her never seeing the appointment letter.
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 Stockton home.
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 - which could take it to summer 2019.
Joy, who lives in Norton, 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. "
The ICE will look at five key claims as part of the complaint.
• The Citizen’s Advice Bureau sent a letter to the DWP regarding Jodey’s health issues on February 15, six days before her death, but it failed to act on it until March 23.
• Despite being made aware of her death on February 23 using the ‘tell us once’ system, the DWP issued a claim to Jodey about her Employment Support Allowance claim on February 25.
• The DWP failed to take appropriate action to upgrade their computer systems until March 1.
• The DWP continued to call Jodey’s phone and leave her voicemail messages until May, despite knowing of her death.
• The department failed to respond to Mrs Dove’s letter of April 13, 2017 until June 14, 2017.
Teesside Coroner’s Court heard last year that Jodey had battled with mental and physical health problems during her short life.
A shop assistant, she was forced to retire young due to pain which left her on 23 tablets-a-day, including morphine.
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. You can sign it here: you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/justice-for-jodey
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.”
The DWP did not respond for requests for comment.
However, after the inquest into her death last May a spokesman for the DWP said: “Our thoughts are with Miss Whiting’s family at this difficult time. Suicide is a very complex issue.”
Similar article appears in the web editions of the Daily Mirror and Metro ... if not also in the printed editions.