Family of a mentally ill man who killed himself after his benefits were mistakenly halted have blamed the Tories for his suicide. Paul Donnachie was found dead at his home after an error saw his payments stop and he owed more than £3,000 in unpaid rent. The Glasgow man, who suffered from "severe" mental health issues, had been declared fit to work after he failed to attend a work capability assessment in June.
Upon realising their mistake, the council sent Mr Donnachie a letter telling him his benefits would be reinstated. But by the time it arrived it was too late - it was found unopened in his flat along with his body. It’s thought he had been dead for two months. The council letter informed him he had to reply within 14 days to have his housing benefit reinstated. Because he failed to do that, his arrears continued to build. His body was found when the council came to evict him. After his death, the authorities continue to hound him. One letter demanded £3002.72 that he owed in council tax arrears. They only discovered he was dead when they came to evict him.
Mr Donnachie's sister Eleanor told the Daily Record: “The Government murdered him. They are driving ordinary people to suicide. Paul suffered severe mental health problems. He failed to attend a work capability assessment on June 30 last year and was later told his Employment and Support Allowance was being stopped." Eleanor, from Coatbridge, Lanarkshire, said: “Something needs to be done. “The Conservative Government aren’t living in the real world and have no idea how people live. They don’t care about working-class people and the vulnerable.
Paul Donnachie’s disability benefit was ended in June 2015 after he missed four work capability assessments by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) who insisted he was capable of working and said the benefits cut would be backdated to June 3. The DWP subsequently contacted Glasgow City Council, who stopped Mr Donnachie's housing and council tax benefits. Again, the cut was backdated, so he was already in arrears with his rent and council tax. Mr Donnachie didn’t know where to turn after his benefits were stopped. In September, as he struggled to cope with no income, he applied to Glasgow City Council for a Scottish Welfare Crisis Grant to pay for gas, electricity and food. But his application was rejected and he was advised that if he wanted to eat, he should go to a food bank.
In November, a study from Oxford and Liverpool universities linked the DWP’s hated “fit for work” assessments to 590 suicides in England alone.