A man has died ‘hungry and in fear’ after being made to wait weeks for his Universal Credit payment to go through.
Chris Gold, from Shepton Beauchamp in Somerset, spent his last days starving and in fear of losing his home, his sister has said.
Mr Gold’s sister, Heather, said that her brother was like ‘a ghost on legs’ before his death, and that whilst waiting for his initial Universal Credit payment Mr Gold had had his phone line cut off and was barely surviving on meagre food bank parcels.
Shortly before his death Mr Gold conducted an interview with ITV in which he said:
I feel like I’ve been hung out to dry and not eating and that – it just makes you feel ill all the time. Yeah I want to keep the house because I’ve worked hard for thirty eight years but it just seems unfair that I’ve worked all my life to buy a house and now I’m going to end up with nothing.
Chris also said that he was initially declared fit for work despite a stroke in 2015 that left him with serious health problems.
After his death, Mr Gold’s sister was scathing about her brother’s despicable treatment, telling ITV West Country:
He knew that he was going to lose everything. His house, where he brought the girls up. He knew.
He couldn’t go to work – he was ill. Just looking at him he looked like a ghost on legs. He was so pale, no fat on him.
Heather said that her brother was extremely hopeful of receiving his first Universal Credit payment just days before his death, but it never arrived.
Ms Gold said:
They should have been more in touch with him to help him with his head so that he could sleep and not worry about the next day and what was going to happen. They could have taken a lot of stress off him.
We were brother and sister. We were also friends – the best friends. I can hold my head up high, I helped my brother.
Benefits didn’t get there. I am angry.
The shocking news will heap yet more pressure on a Tory government who have callously ignored numerous warnings from all parties regarding the 6-week unpaid waiting period for all new Universal Credit claimants.
After unanimously winning a non-binding vote to pause the Universal Credit roll out, the Labour Party subsequently managed to force the government into an emergency debate on the subject. However, during the emergency debate today, several heartless Tory MPs simply shrugged off Labour warnings about the 6-week waiting period, disgustingly labelling them as ‘scaremongering’.
To make matters even worse for an under-fire Tory government, a Tory DWP spokesman seemed to imply that Mr Gold’s death was his own fault for not claiming an advanced payment – a policy which the spokesman failed to mention claimants are not actually told about.
When asked about Mr Gold’s tragic death, a DWP spokesman simply said:
Our sympathy is with Mr Gold’s family at this difficult time.
There is extra support for people when they need it, including home visits to help people with their claim, and advances for people who cannot wait for their first payment.
The government has come under huge pressure to either pause the roll out of Universal Credit or at least reduce the time which new claimants are forced to survive with absolutely no money.
However, after the emergency debate today, it has become clear that the Conservative government have absolutely no intention of listening to reason.
In a caring society, Mr Gold’s tragic death would surely have been the wake up call to all Tory MPs that they have seriously misjudged the horrendous impact of their latest despicable policy. However, this is to assume that the Tories actually care about the lives of ordinary people.
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