Seriously ill Willesden man had his benefits stopped after he was deemed 'fit for work' weeks before he died
PUBLISHED: 18:09 06 October 2015 | UPDATED: 09:54 09 October 2015
A dying resident in Willesden had his benefits stopped after he was declared fit for work just weeks before he passed away.
Ricky Neacey was forced to fight the decision by the Department of Work and Pensions to axe his Jobseekers allowance before it finally did a U-turn and accepted his health was failing.
The 52-year-old, who lived in a bedsit in Park Avenue, was eventually allowed to claim Employment Support Allowance (ESA), which is given to people who are deemed too ill to work, three weeks before dying from chronic liver failure.
Mark Neacey has slammed the ‘shameful’ treatment of his brother in his final weeks.
He told the Times: “My brother started drinking heavily after losing his job in 2011 and became lonely and depressed.
“His health was so poor that he had developed diabetes and was requiring a liver operation yet Ricky was receiving mail from the unemployment office in Brent declaring him fit for work and telling him he would have his benefits stopped unless he actively sought work.
“It’s shameful that they treat a person especially someone as sick, ailing and depressed as my brother like this.”
At the time of his death Mr Neacey had accrued rent arrears as Brent Council had stopped his Housing Benefit payments after the DWP alerted them to his benefits being axed.
Unaware of how ill he was before he died, his brother, who lives in Germany, said his father and sister were also unaware and given the sad news by the police five days later.
He said: “Things were so bad that he was unable to take care of himself and could not wash or dress unaided and was so drugged up with medication that he was often confused and should have been in a care home.
“In fact he was being seen by a social worker throughout the past few years who never took the trouble to find out who his nearest relatives were and to contact them or we could have helped him.”
He added: “I have sent emails to the Housing Benefit office and to the DWP in July this year but have received no answer from them.
“Obviously they don’t like it when educated people write to them looking for explanations for their inhumane handling of unfortunate people.
“It’s disgraceful the way he has been treated and Brent Council and the DWP should be ashamed.”
A council spokesman said Mr Neacey was supported by a range of different public services and charitable agencies offering him support and was at one stage provided with a home carer three times a day though his care package was later reviewed.
He added: “We’re sorry to learn of Mr Neacey’s relatives’ concerns, which of course we take very seriously. We’re now conducting a review of the support we offered to him, and will offer to meet with family members to discuss this.”
A spokesman for the DWP said: “Our thoughts are with Mr Neacey’s family.
“The local Jobcentre Plus was supporting Mr Neacey and when he died he was receiving ESA following his adviser’s advice to make a claim.”