Monday, March 9, 2015

Widow’s treatment by DWP ‘has been inhumane and cruel’

A disabled widow has accused the government of subjecting her and her late husband to “inhumane and cruel” treatment, after the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) argued that it was not responsible for supporting them.

Laurel Duut’s husband Peter died in October 2011 at the age of 42, just seven months after being told he was not entitled to claim employment and support allowance (ESA) or jobseeker’s allowance (JSA), because he was a Dutch national and was not “active in the labour market”.

They had returned to the UK in 2008, although Peter had spent most of his life working in the Netherlands. He worked as a carpenter, firstly in London – commuting six hours a day from their home in Suffolk – and then closer to home for a housing association.

But in March 2011 Peter lost his job, and was told he was not entitled to JSA because he was a Dutch national.

They were forced to survive on Laurel’s disability living allowance (high rate care and lower rate mobility), and the carer’s allowance that Peter claimed. This left them just a few pence every week for food after paying their bills.

Peter became ill with undiagnosed cancer in April 2011, but his health deteriorated rapidly from June 2011, and he began to lose weight. He was six feet three inches tall, but his weight fell from 11 stone four pounds to just nine stone two.

After being told by Jobcentre Plus that he would need to travel to find work – despite writhing in pain during the interview – Peter walked in despair to his local newspaper and told them how he was being treated.
He told the Cambridge News that he and Laurel were living on just 12p a day each for food.

Laurel finally received about two weeks’ worth of ESA for her husband, but it only arrived after Peter died in October 2011. She put it towards the cost of his funeral...