A mum died alone in her freezing cold home after her benefits were stopped because she was too ill to attend a meeting, her relatives have said.
Elaine Morrall was found at her Runcorn home wearing her coat and scarf indoors, because she couldn’t afford to turn her heating on.
The 38-year-old, who had four children, was living with an eating disorder and mental health problems.
Elaine’s mum, Linda, has sent a furious letter to her local councillor, following her daughter’s tragic passing, imploring them to do something about the benefits system.
In the open letter, which was posted on Facebook, the brokenhearted mum wrote: “My daughter lived in Boston Ave. She died on the afternoon of 2 November, 2017 at home on her own. She was 38yrs.
In the cold with her coat and scarf on. Because she wouldn’t put her heating on until her kids came home from school. Why?? Because she couldn’t afford it.
Because she was severely depressed. Suffered from eating disorder and many other problems for many years.
Mainly due to authoritarians of one form or another. I can give you details. Was in and out of hospital in recent months in intensive care.
But was deemed not ill enough for ESA [Employment and Support Allowance]. Had her benefits stopped numerous times, which in turn stopped her housing benefit.
No income but expected to be able to pay full rent. Was told being in intensive care was not sufficient reason for failing to attend a universal credit interview.
I went to the job center to inform them that she couldn’t attend. But benefits stopped again.
Uncaring housing taking her to court. She’s due to go to court on Monday. Is being dead now enough reason? Is that what’s had to happen to prove she was ill?
How many people have got to die before this government realises they are killing vulnerable people??
What are you and your fellow councillors going to do to protect your constituents?”
A crowdfunding page was set up to help raise funds for her children. It closed after reaching its £790 ($1,000) target.
Jonathan Horsfall, Halton Housing Trust debt recovery manager, said: “We always follow strict procedures around arrears.
We strive to find solutions with our customers and have intensive support workers who enable us to do so where possible.
Our support services are on offer to those who we know are in arrears, and are always reached out to for support.
If customers are concerned about arrears we always encourage anyone to get in touch with us as early as possible in the arrears process so we can do all we can to help.
A DWP spokesperson said: “Our thoughts are with Ms Morrall’s family at this difficult time.
We understand that people can’t always attend appointments, which is why we will re-arrange alternative times.
Assessment decisions are made with consideration of all the information provided, including supporting evidence from a GP or medical specialist.
Anyone who disagrees with a decision can appeal.