A mum-of-four who had her benefits cut after she was too sick to attend a meeting died cold and alone wrapped in a coat and scarf, her family claimed today (wed).
Elaine Morrall, 38, had her benefits stopped because she failed to attend a meeting about universal credit as she was in a hospital intensive care unit, they said.
Elaine, who suffered from an eating disorder and mental health problems, was found dead in her housing trust home earlier this month.
Her family claimed she would not put her heating on until her kids got home from school because of the cost.
Today, as friends rallied to raise funds for her kids, her grieving mother Linda Morrall blamed the Department of Work and Pensions for her untimely death.
Mrs Morrall, in an open letter on Facebook, wrote: “How many people have got to die before this government realises they are killing vulnerable people?”
The post about the tragic death of Elaine from Halton, Runcorn, Cheshire, has since gone viral on social media.
The heartbreaking post from Elaine’s mother, Linda, reads: “My daughter lived in Boston ave. She died on the afternoon of 2 November 2017 at home on her own. She was 38yrs.
“In the cold with her coat & scarf on. Because she wouldn’t put her heating on until her kids came home from school. Why ?? Because she couldn’t afford it.
“Because she was severely depressed. Suffered from eating disorder & many other problems for many years.
“Mainly due to authoritarians of 1 form or another. I can give you details. Was in & out of hospital in recent months in intensive care.
“But was deemed not ill enough for ESA. Had her benefits stopped numerous times, which in turn stopped her housing benefit.
“No income but expected to be able to pay full rent. Was told being in intensive care was not sufficient reason for failing to attend a universal credit interview.
“I went to the job centre to inform them that she couldn’t attend. But benefits stopped again.
“Uncaring housing taking her to court. She’s due to go to court on monday. Is being dead now enough reason. Is that what’s had to happen to prove she was ill??
“How many people have got to die before this government realises they are killing vulnerable people??
“What are you and your fellow councillors going to do to protect your constituents??”
Thousands of people have now donated money to support the family through a popular crowd-funding website.
Single mum Rebecca Wolfe set up the page after being moved by the tragedy, and has helped to raise £790 for the family.
The cause has now closed after reaching its target.
The single 40-year-old mum-of-two, who cares for her autistic son and was diagnosed with kidney cancer when she was younger, said: “It upset me so much thinking about this woman’s children.
“It struck a chord with me. When I was a lot younger I was diagnosed with kidney cancer.
“My children were only young and every waking moment I was worried about who was going to look after them. That was my worse nightmare.
“You can give your sympathies, prayers and thoughts but that doesn’t help the family.
“I just want this woman to know that we are trying to help in a small way. I didn’t expect anyone to donate but it’s gone massive.”
Jonathan Horsfall, Halton Housing Trust debt recovery manager, said: “We always follow strict procedures around arrears.
“We strive to find solutions with our customers and have intensive support workers who enable us to do so where possible.
“Our support services are on offer to those who we know are in arrears, and are always reached out to for support.
“If customers are concerned about arrears we always encourage anyone to get in touch with us as early as possible in the arrears process so we can do all we can to help.”
A DWP spokesperson said: “Our thoughts are with Ms Morrall’s family at this difficult time.
“We understand that people can’t always attend appointments, which is why we will re-arrange alternative times.
“Assessment decisions are made with consideration of all the information provided, including supporting evidence from a GP or medical specialist.
“Anyone who disagrees with a decision can appeal.”
Hundreds of wellwishers have commented on the shared post.
Mary Render said: “This is heartbreaking. It’s beyond belief in a so called rich nation such as ours. We all need to hang our heads in shame.”
Trish Clemit said: “This is the saddest thing I have read in a long time. This is horrific.”
Lauren Hughes added: “This is utterly disgraceful and inhumane.”
Jayne Sheridan said: “Nearly crying reading this. Disgusting shouldn’t be allowed to get away with this any longer.”
Halton MP Derek Twigg, who is now working with the family, said: “It is a very tragic case and I am providing assistance to my constituent.”
He said: “The family are grieving and request that they are given the privacy, time and space they need at this time.”