Mum’s benefit issues drove her to ‘despair’ before overdose

The family of a Nottingham mum who took a fatal overdose say she was left “in despair” over issues concerning her benefit claims.

Philippa Day, of Pendle Crescent, Mapperley, took an overdose in August 2019 and was in a coma until she died on October 15 of the same year.

Miss Day, also known as Pip, was found collapsed by her sister and father with a letter beside her from the DWP refusing her a home assessment visit over her benefits.

Her family have criticised what they have described as the “cold and unsympathetic wall of resistance” they say she received from DWP and Capita.

They said her weekly money was reduced to £60 after she applied for Personal Independence Payments (PIP).

Miss Day, who had been diagnosed with emotionally unstable personality disorder and suffered with agoraphobia, felt she “couldn’t cope” with leaving the house to go an appointment for a PIP assessment before her death.

Following an inquest into her death, Assistant Coroner for Nottinghamshire Gordon Clow made recommendations to the DWP and Capita, who he criticised for the way they dealt with her benefits claim.

He reached a narrative conclusion in the death of Miss Day after reeling off a list of almost 30 ‘problems’ with the way her claim was handled.

Her sister Imogen Day said: “As our family made clear in evidence given at the inquest into the death of my sister, we believe that Pip’s treatment by the DWP had a direct impact on her mental state.

“She was in despair because of the depths to which she had sunk, she could see no way out of the debt and the poverty in which she was living. Pip’s poor mental health meant she was not able to handle the battle with the DWP for the reinstatement of her benefits. The stress of the conflict with the DWP made her even more ill.

“Support from her community psychiatric nurse and from her family kept her going. But the constant cold and unsympathetic wall of resistance that she met at Capita and the DWP was more than she could endure.

Mum Philippa Day.
Mum Philippa Day.
(Image: Imogen Day)

“The refusal of a home assessment by Capita was just too much for Pip to cope with. We believe she just couldn’t take any more.”

The inquest into her death, held remotely at Nottingham Coroners Court, was told about her immense difficulties over her benefits claim and how it impacted her in the months leading up to her death.

Concluding the inquest, Assistant Coroner for Nottinghamshire Gordon Clow said: “It was clear that an overdose taken by Philippa caused her to suffer a severe brain injury from which she later died.

“I therefore conclude Philippa took her own life.

“A range of stressors came together. I accept the evidence from Charles and Imogen Day that this could well have been the last straw for Philippa.

“I cannot be satisfied that it was more likely than not that she intended her death when she self-administered insulin.

“She intended to harm herself or put her life in danger.

“She was faced with a dreadful catch 22 situation.

“To continue to receive these benefits she would have to attend an assessment.

“She could see no way forward.”

A DWP spokesperson said: “This is a deeply tragic case. Our sincere condolences are with Miss Day’s family and we will carefully consider the Coroner’s findings.” 

A Capita spokesperson said: “We extend our sincere condolences to Philippa Day’s family over her tragic death. We would like to apologise to them for the mistakes made in processing her claim and the additional stress which was caused to Philippa.

“We have strengthened our processes over the last 18 months and are committed to continuously working to deliver a high-quality, empathetic service for every claimant.

“In partnership with the DWP, we will act upon the coroner’s findings and make further improvements to our processes.”


Nottinghamshire Live – Local News