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DWP error causes father to take his own life

Maxwell Quinton with his wife Andrina
Maxwell Quinton with his wife Andrina Image credit:

A mistake by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) has cost the life of a disabled man after he received the wrong bank statement.

Maxwell Quinton suffered from depression, sciatica, COPD and haemochromatosis, when he was mistakenly informed there were troubles with his benefits the 54-year-old from Glenrothes, Fife took his own life on April 13.

The father-of-one left a note to his wife Andrina and son Harry asking them to “tell the benefit system what they are doing to people like me”.

Mr Quinton was receiving benefits for the past 20 years, but as time went by his memory started to deteriorate.

He delayed sending a bank statement to the DWP which resulted in the government suspending his Personal Independence Payment last month.

Andrina, 54, told The Daily Record: “From the 1st of January this year up until April 13, I think he had been admitted to the Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy seven or eight times after taking drug overdoses.

“After his last attempt in March, they wouldn’t let him out and they sectioned him. They said that due to the significance of this attempt, they had no other option but to keep him in for 10 days.

“It was exactly four weeks after he had released that he did what he did.

"That morning, he had an appointment with the doctor at 10.40am. When he came back from the doctor, I asked how he got on and he said it was fine.

“That’s when the post arrived and he received the letter from the DWP telling him that his money was being suspended.

“The haemochromatosis made him quite drowsy and all he wanted to do was go to sleep so I left him with a plan to go back down later and take his tea to him.

“I called him later on saying I was on my way down but he said I had just woke him up. I told him to call me later and I would bring him some food.

“We were on the phone a few times after that until his son Harry and I received the last call from him at about 10.45pm."

At first Andrina tried to help Maxwell with the claim, but after she realised it was too late. In panic she called her daughter Denise Lomas from Dundee who called the police.

Maxwell, who lived at a different address to his partner, took his own life a few hours later.

Andrina added:  “I told him to come up the road and we’d get everything with the DWP sorted in the morning and I’d get the bank statements that they wanted.

“I panicked and called my daughter Denise in Dundee and she called the police. She then got a call asking her to go down to the station.

“She then called me from there and said that Maxi was away. Harry and I ran down to where we knew he was and there was a police car stopping anyone.

“I asked if I could bring up a blanket for him so he wouldn’t be cold. I was in total shock and just couldn’t process that he had died.

“I found these letters when I went up to clean his house.

"He left one for his mum, one for his friends and one for Harry and me.

“His mind must have been totally made up. He asked me to make sure I told the benefits system what they were doing to people like him.

“The letter from the DWP was dated on the 9th of April but he received it on the 13th and he did what he did later that day.

“His money was due on the Wednesday and this letter came on the Tuesday so he knew he wouldn't have been getting any money.

“Maxi hadn’t been able to work for over 20 years because of his health but he had a small private pension from when he used to be a welder. He had taken a lump sum out of it and because of that, the DWP were asking for bank statements.

“But over the last year, he was getting really forgetful and he had to write everything down so he must not have done it.”

Maxwell step-daughter Denise Lomas, 32, was devastated when she heard about his death.

She said: “I’ll never forget that night. My blood didn’t run cold, it drained and I lost all strength in my legs. I lay in a corner crying for hours. It was horrendous.

“I do feel that the DWP needs to find a system that works. For two years, dad was waiting on his first appeal which is just ridiculous. He had two years of worry and they didn’t stop. They just kept pushing and pushing.

“They’d take him off PIP, then put him back on, then take him off again and then put him back on at a lower rate.

“It’s absolutely disgraceful. I did offer to help with his paperwork. I just wish I had gone and done it there and then instead of asking him to wait a few days. It might have just saved his life.

“Dad was everything to us - the centre of the family. He thrived as a family man. We had so many laughs with him.

“He loved Christmas as that was family time. If we were ever in trouble, dad always found a way around things. If we were all happy, so was he.

A spokesperson for the DWP said: “This is a tragic case, and our sincere condolences are with Mr Quinton’s family.”