21 February 2017
What: Jodey Whiting had been a long-time claimant of incapacity benefit, and then ESA, and DWP and its assessors had previously noted the severity of her mental health condition, and the risk that would be posed if she was found fit for work. When she was approached again for another assessment in the autumn of 2016, she told DWP about her suicidal thoughts and requested a home assessment as she said she rarely left the house. But even though a “flag” was placed on DWP’s ESA system to alert staff that she was a “vulnerable” claimant because of her mental health condition, DWP failed to refer her request for a home visit to Maximus. Maximus also failed to act on her request, even though it had been included in the ESA50 form she had filled out. Jodey, who had nine children, missed a WCA appointment on 16 January 2017. She had received treatment in hospital for a cyst on her brain and had been housebound with pneumonia. It later emerged that she had not opened the 15 December letter telling her about the appointment. Despite the evidence she provided, DWP refused to give her another appointment and confirmed that she had been found fit for work and would lose her ESA. She visited Citizens Advice, and an advisor wrote to DWP on 15 February 2017 to ask for another WCA appointment, but she took her own life six days later, just four days after her final ESA payment. Six weeks after her death, DWP overturned the decision to terminate her ESA.
Why significant: Jodey Whiting’s case will become one of the most prominent to be linked to DWP failings, through the exhaustive campaigning efforts of her mother, Joy Dove.