A furious daughter handed over an urn that contained her mother’s ashes to a benefits inspector who wanted to see if the dead woman was fit for work.
Hatti Broxton immediately told the authorities that her mum Louise tragically died from lung cancer at the age of 47 in August.
Louise had suffered from a host of neurological problems for which she received various benefits.
Hatti informed the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) of her mother’s death so that the benefits would be cancelled but seven months later a doctor arrived at her home in Wolverhampton, West Mids, to see if she was still able to work.
Prison administrator Hatti fumed: ‘I’m so upset and angry about what’s happened…
‘I’m only 27 and my brother has just turned 17. We’ve been through enough already and we don’t need this.
‘I told the DWP afterwards I’d love to live in the world that the DWP live in, the one where my mum’s still alive. But she’s been gone for seven months.’
Hatti said she received an acknowledgement from the DWP to say that her mother had died her benefits payments were stopped, with the arrears they owed to her paid into her daughter’s account as next of kin.
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However, on 28 February, a letter addressed to Louise from the DWP stated that they were going to do a home visit on 13 March to assess her disabilities.
Hatti decided not to contact the DWP about the mistake and instead wait to see if they would turn up.
At 1pm the DWP doctor turned up and asked Hatti if her cousin, who was also in the house, was her mother Louise.
Hatti said: ‘My cousin replied, ‘No, I’m not,’ and I said, ‘Hang on a minute.’
‘Then I went behind the sofa to the unit where mum is, picked up her urn, turned around, and said ‘This is Louise Broxton and you’ve come to assess her?’
‘He was completely mortified, as you would be. He apologised and offered his condolences.
‘I told him, ‘I’m not doing this to embarrass you, but the letter and having you on my door today, that’s twice the DWP have missed something.’
Hatti claims the doctor had not looked at her mum’s medical records, which would have shown him she was dead.
She also believes the DWP missed three opportunities to realise something was wrong – when they sent the letter, when no one responded to their request, and when the doctor missed Louise’s medical records.
Hatti asked the doctor to leave and inform his bosses of the mistake straight away.
She added: ‘It’s not the case that my mum died a couple of weeks ago. Then a crossover would be understandable and I would accept their apology.
‘After the doctor left, within 10 minutes the DWP rang. The lady apologised and offered her condolences, but after admitting their mistake she tried to leave it at that.
‘That’s not good enough. I want policies in place and procedures to be followed. I don’t want anyone else to be in my situation.’
A DWP spokesperson said: ‘We’ve apologised to Ms Broxton for the distress caused by the administrative error.’