Anorexic mother found dead in freezing flat after Universal Credit cut 'because she was too ill to attend meeting’

Elaine Morrall was found in her home wearing a coat and scarf

Lydia Smith
Thursday 09 November 2017 14:37
Theresa May asked about woman who has 4p to her name due to Universal Credit

A woman suffering from an eating disorder died alone in her home after her benefits were cut because she was too ill to attend an Employment Support Allowance meeting.

Elaine Morrall, a mother of four, was found dead in her freezing flat in Runcorn, Cheshire, wearing a coat and scarf earlier this month.

Ms Morrall’s family said the 38-year-old had her benefits cut after failing to turn up for a meeting because she was in intensive care in hospital.

In an open letter posted on Facebook, Ms Morrall’s mother Linda blamed the Department of Work and Pensions for her daughter’s death, saying she was left unable to afford to put the heating on.

“How many people have got to die before this government realises they are killing vulnerable people?” she wrote.

“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.

Elaine Morrall was left unable to afford to put the heating on, her family said

“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??”

Halton MP Derek Twigg, who is working with the family, said the case was “tragic” and he was providing assistance.

“The family are grieving and request that they are given the privacy, time and space they need at this time,” he said.

A spokesperson for the DWP 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.”

Universal credit rolls six working-age benefits into a single payment, but since the scheme was launched, hundreds of thousands of claimants have had to wait six weeks or more for an initial payment, forcing many into debt.

A report published earlier this year by Southwark and Croydon councils, who were among the first in the country to roll out the new regime, found the credit system had the potential to be “catastrophic” and lead to a “spiral of debt”.

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