The family of a man who took his life after repeated problems with Universal Credit have hit out at the system, saying: “They just don’t care about people.”
Sean Doherty developed depression after the death of his father in July 2018, who he had been a carer for.
His family claim staff from the Department of Work and Pensioners (DWP) accused the 37-year-old of continuing to receive a carers’ allowance.
In June this year Sean, from Pollok, Southside, Glasgow, visited A&E in the city twice, begging for help for his mental health but was sent home as he was deemed “low risk”.
Just days later on June 6, he took his own life in the River Clyde and his body was found three days later.
Sean’s family say he was failed by medics who did not realise how severe his problems were.
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde have now launched an investigation and described the Doherty family’s concerns as ‘serious’.
Sean’s sister, Julie, 40, said he was repeatedly underpaid Universal Credit due to confusion as to whether he was receiving carer’s allowance.
She said: “He wasn’t being paid the correct amount of benefits, because they said he was receiving carer’s allowance. He would phone Universal Credit and they would say he had the carer’s allowance, so he kept having to tell them ‘My dad’s dead’.
“There is just no help for people.”
The DWP has insisted that its contact with Sean was to check he was ‘getting the full support he was entitled to’.
But Julie said Sean was sometimes paid just £30 into his bank account and believes the combined turmoil of grieving and dealing with benefit’s staff made her brother suicidal.
Sean’s mum Margaret, who accompanied him to hospital on one of the occasions, said she wants answers about why her son was sent home twice from hospital.
She said: “He had had a lot of problems with Universal Credit, there were always phoning him and threatening to cut his money and saying he wasn't declaring his carers allowance for his dad.
"They were still asking him about the carers allowance after he died and it had stopped.”
She said she had gone with Sean to the hospital after he had said he felt like killing himself, but when they spoke to a doctor he said: “He doesn't seem to have a problem”.
She said: “After we reported him missing, the police went down to the hospital and told me that as far as the doctors were concerned he had been very low risk.
“I feel as if the hospital didn't give a damn about my son. I feel so angry because I know my son wasn't low risk.”
A spokeswoman for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said they are investigating the claims, adding: "We are treating this issue seriously and will let the family know of the outcome of our investigations."
A spokesman for the Department of Work and Pensioners (DWP) said: "Our thoughts are with Mr Doherty's family and friends at this difficult time.
"We value the role carers play and were in contact with Mr Doherty to ensure he was getting the full support he was entitled to, as we rely on information provided by claimants to get this right."