16 October 2019
What: Philippa Day dies in hospital after two months in a coma. Her unconscious body had been found by her sister and father on 8 August 2019, days after she had been told she would need to attend an assessment centre for a face-to-face appointment to decide her claim for personal independence payment. Her sister and father found the 27-year-old mother lying on her bed at her home in Nottingham. On the pillow next to her was a letter from Capita telling her she would have to attend the appointment at the assessment centre in Nottingham or she would be likely to lose her benefits. She also left an apparent suicide note blaming the way the government had dealt with her benefits, and she had previously told her sister that she believed DWP was trying to kill her. She had experienced months of distress due to DWP’s decisions to remove her disability benefits when it lost her claim form, and then to confirm that decision, as well as the length of time it took to reinstate her benefits, and deal with a new claim. DWP errors had caused her severe financial hardship, and resulted in her taking out payday loans she could not pay back. Both DWP and Capita had been told of her history of significant mental distress and mental health inpatient admissions, that she was agoraphobic, and that she would be unable to cope with attending the assessment centre.
Why significant: A subsequent inquest into her death will reveal a catalogue of safeguarding failings by DWP and Capita, many of which will be familiar to the families of other claimants who have died in previous years.