Leeds Benefits Chief’s “Son Dead” Blunder

Carole Ryan with her autistic son Jake from Whitkirk, Leeds. They were sent a letter saying that he was dead.
Carole Ryan with her autistic son Jake from Whitkirk, Leeds. They were sent a letter saying that he was dead.
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A MUM was sent a condolence letter for the death of her autistic teenage son – but, he is alive and well.

Carole Ryan was asked by the Department of Work and Pensions to fill in a form with details of how her son Jake, 15, died.

As a result she was also asked to return the disability scheme car she had been given to help look after him.

Mrs Ryan, of Whitkirk, Leeds, says she is appalled by the error – caused by a mistake processing a benefit application.

She has now received a full apology from the DWP and a promise that all her son’s disability benefits, which were ended suddenly and without notice, will be paid.

Mrs Ryan, 47, said. “It was such a shock, I am still not over it. They’ve been so insensitive. They should have at least asked for a death certificate.

“Even if someone HAD lost a child, a person being contacted like this is diabolical.”

Mrs Ryan also wants to see the disability allowance system tight-

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ened. She said it has taken her a full month to fill in the complex 12-page application form. Currently, new applications for Disability Living Allowance have to be submitted every three eyars.

“If they have been so flippant and not checked about a child’s death, how many people, are slipping through the net and getting Disability Living Allowance when they shouldn’t be?” she said.

“They talk about making cuts. I think they would save a lot more money if they sorted that out.

“A lot of people depend on the allowance. You should not have to prove your child has a disability.

“Jake will never get better, he has autism for life, We shouldn’t have to go through this every three years.”

Jake has complex special needs and attends the East Specialist Inclusive Learning Centre (East SILC) at John Jamieson School in Oakwood.

Mrs Ryan has set up a parent/carer support group at the Leeds Mencap charity in East End Park to help other parents in similar circumstances.

“[With] all these cuts going to happen, if they are making mistakes like this now, what will happen in the future?”

Mrs Ryan’s other son Max, 19, who contacted the YEP on his mum’s behalf, said he had watched her struggling for years. She was now “living in fear of future cuts”.

“David Cameron said ‘the poor and vulnerable will not be affected’, well my brother is vulnerable and is being affected,” he said.

A DWP spokesperson said: “We have been in contact with Mrs Ryan to sincerely apologise for the mistake made when assessing her son’s claim for benefits. We have also ensured that all outstanding payments will now be made.” The mistake had been caused by “admin error”.

The DWP has contacted Mrs Ryan to say an internal inquiry has been launched.

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