The sister of a man who died whilst waiting for a Universal Credit payment says her brother spent his last days hungry and in fear of losing his home.
Chris Gold from Shepton Beauchamp, Somerset, died from natural causes just days after ITV News reported on the delays he faced receiving his benefits payout.
In an exclusive interview with our reporter, Ben McGrail, his sister says he was let down by the system.
When I met Chris Gold earlier this year, it was clear he was worried about his future. He was heavily in debt and struggling to be paid Universal Credit. He was preparing to lose his home.
He told me:
Chris said that when applying for the benefit he’d been told he was fit to work, but the stroke, which he suffered in 2015, left him with serious health problems.
Just days after our interview was broadcasted, he died of natural causes.
Chris’s sister Heather told me she had spent a lot of time with him in the months before he died.
She knew how serious his money problems were and she says she saw the effect his fight to get Universal Credit had on him.
I asked Heather, what if he’d been getting that money?
In the months between his first application and his death, Chris had his phone line cut off, big utility bills come through and he’d been receiving food bank parcels.
The week I saw him, he told me he was hopeful of receiving Universal Credit in a few days… but that didn’t happen.
In the end, Heather says, he relied on her for money.
Chris’s story isn’t unique.
The charity Citizens Advice Taunton, says between April and September this year they helped over 450 people who are either trying to claim Universal Credit or are in debt because of delays in receiving it.
In the end, Heather says, he relied on her for money. She also bought his food shopping and took him for meals.
Chris never received the benefit. He died waiting.
Today, the government has been forced to hold an emergency debate on the new benefits system, after the Commons backed motion calling for rollout to be paused.
- Watch the live debate below:
In response, the Department of Work and Pensions said:
Where were the ‘food banks’ in this case?