A 34-year-old father-of-three who only had less than $10 in his bank account decided to take his own life after waiting weeks for his Universal Credit payments.
Phillip Herron was out of work and struggled to clothe and feed his children while trying to pay back around $20,000 debt.
Although he applied for help from the government, the long waiting time pushed him to commit suicide.
Brought in by the Coalition Government 2013, Universal Credit was meant to replace numerous benefits with one. However, it is paid monthly in arrears and the first payment requires an average wait of five weeks.
Moments before he passed away, Herron shared a photo of him to social media crying while in his car.
His mother, 54-year-old Sheena Derbyshire, said that he wrote in his suicide note that he believed his family would be better off without him. He hadn’t told anyone about his financial problems.
His mother told the Mirror: “His death came as a complete shock. I couldn’t understand why he’d do this.”
Herron had to quit his job so he could look after his young children but he struggled financially because of it. According to Ms. Derbyshire, he spent most of his final phone conversations screaming.
“He loved his kids but he started shouting at them. And you can hear him sobbing in calls. I heard him talking about suicide to other people,” she expressed.
“I wish he’d told us how he was feeling but we never knew.
“Listening to those last few months of calls I started asking myself, “Who is this person?” He’d changed so much so very quickly.”
A spokesperson for the Department for Work and Pensions said to the Mirror: “Our thoughts are with Mr Herron’s family.
“Suicide is a very complex issue, so it would be wrong to link it solely to someone’s benefit claim.
“We are committed to safeguarding vulnerable claimants and keep guidance under constant review to provide the highest standard of protection.”
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