David Clapson, 59 from Stevenage in Hertfordshire died starving and with just £3.44 left in his bank account after officials axed his benefits.
The ex-soldier served his country in Northern Ireland before leaving the army. He went straight from the army to work for BT before leaving to become a full-time carer for his ill mother. Following her death, he began to seek help from the state by means of Jobseeker’s Allowance.
Under the government’s current benefit rules, he missed one appointment with his adviser and had his allowance of £71.70 a week axed. Officials wrote to him on June 28 saying his Jobseeker’s Allowance would be stopped from July 12 until August 8. A last payment of £122.10 went into his account on July 2.
With no income, the 59-year-old couldn’t afford food or electricity and sadly died as a result of DKA (Diabetic Ketoacidosis), caused by not taking his insulin. His sister Gill Thompson told the Mirror that she believes he stopped taking his insulin after becoming so desperate over his lack of income.
Trying her best to hold back the tears, she said: “I think he just gave up. I want the lessons to be learned. I don’t want anybody else to die. He shouldn’t have died like that. You wouldn’t let an animal die like that, would you?”
“My brother was not a scrounger. He was getting £71.70 a week. He was not living on champagne and caviar. They should have taken into account his past work and his condition.”
David was found dead on July 20. Gill, from London, wrote to officials after his death. She said: “The answers came back, ‘Oh well, we followed procedures.’ Well I’m sorry to say the procedures don’t work if people die.” Gill also told how David was also sanctioned in 2010 after not putting enough information down on a claim form. He fell ill but was rescued by a neighbour.
Stevenage council leader criticised Work & Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith over David’s treatment, saying “He should hang his head in shame. David served his country. Treating him like this is disgusting.”
“This tragic death is a direct result of Iain Duncan Smith’s welfare reforms.”
When David died he had just £3.44 to his name, six tea bags, a tin of soup and an out of date can of sardines. His electricity card was out of credit, meaning the fridge where he should have kept his insulin chilled was not working. Furthermore, a coroner found that he had no food in his stomach.
Gill, 57 believes that the welfare system directly caused her brother’s death. She said that the officials were well aware that David was diabetic as he nearly died when his benefits were stopped on a previous occasion.