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Old 08-06-2014, 07:18 AM   #35
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A mum-of-one suffering from severe mental illness died without any money after her disability benefits dried up.

Annette Francis, 30, was found dead at her Garston home two weeks ago, leaving behind 11-year-old son Kieron.

Her distraught family say Annette was let down by the authorities in the months leading up to her death.

At the time of the tragedy, Annette had spent six months without receiving a single penny in benefits, her aunt Ann Sorotos claims.

She told the ECHO: “Annette was penniless because she had no money coming in from the benefits people.

“I’m disgusted with them and think Annette was really badly let down.”

Annette suffered from a mental illness similar to bipolar disorder and was unable to hold down a job.

Mrs Sorotos, from Childwall, who has taken care of Kieron since her niece’s death, continued: “She had very bad mental health problems and struggled to cope day to day.”

Last autumn Annette stopped receiving disability living allowance (DLA), which she had been paid for around 10 years, after the benefit was scrapped by the Government.

She then applied for personal independence payment (PIP), the replacement for DLA, in October – but the cash never arrived before her death six months later.

Mrs Sorotos said: “She never got any of her PIP money. Up to the day she died she never got it.

“What was she meant to live off in the meantime?

“I had to keep telling her to get down to the job centre to keep the pressure on.

“It caused her a lot of stress. She couldn’t afford to get the bus down to come and see her son who was staying with me before she died.”

It is not known how Annette died. Her family are still waiting for the results of toxicology tests. A full inquest into the death will then be carried out by a coroner.

Her body was found after a friend went round to her flat on the morning of May 22. She had died some time during the previous night.

Mrs Sorotos said: “The system has really let Annette down, but my biggest concern now is looking after Kieron. He needs to come first.

“Annette was crying out for help because she needed her benefits.

“She even texted her social worker saying ‘I need help’. She needed a lot more support.

“I tried to help her as well as I could but she was let down every step of the way.

“I am heartbroken. We just can’t get our heads round it. Annette was a really bubbly, lovely person but she varied day to day because of her mental illness.

“I want the benefits authorities to get their act together and stop other people with mental health issues from going through the same problems.

“I want the system changed so it doesn’t fail anyone else.”

Mrs Sorotos is now calling on the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), which processes benefits claims, to hand over Annette’s unpaid PIP money so it can be placed in a trust fund and given to Kieron when he turns 18.

Annette’s local MP, Garston and Halewood’s Maria Eagle, slammed the DWP in the wake of the tragedy.

She said: “I am shocked but unfortunately not surprised to hear of PIP applications taking this length of time to determine.

“To the extent that this causes severe difficulties for vulnerable people, it is utterly deplorable.

“The DWP should get their act together on PIP as soon as possible because frequently people like Annette are in no position to look after their own interests as well as those in good health may be able to.”

A DWP spokesman said: “It would be inappropriate to comment on this case at this time. We are committed to getting PIP claims processed as quickly as possible.” PIP can be worth up to £550 a month.
On balance, I think the only reason our political elite haven't slaughtered us in camps is they need us to produce children for them to fuck

Frankie Boyle
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