Widow left to rely on food banks after benefit bosses cut payments

Debbie Hopley’s husband, John, was just 49, when he died from cancer last month

Deborah Hopley from Kirkby holding a picture of her late husband John Hopley.

A widow said she was left reliant on food banks after benefits bosses cut payments and held up funeral bills two days after her husband’s death.

Debbie Hopley’s husband, John, was just 49 when he died on February 11, following a nine-year battle with cancer.

But, in the week between his death and the funeral, Mrs Hopley said she was told the money they and their two children had survived off through his illness was suddenly being stopped.

Mrs Hopley, 45, who was a full-time carer to John after his cancer made him go blind, said she was abruptly told of the decision after she notified the Department of Work and Pensions of his death.

The widow, from Kirkby , said: “They just handed me forms and said fill them in when I tried to get it sorted.

“That was three weeks ago, and I haven’t had a payment since. I have had to go to a food bank to beg for food.”

When the ECHO spoke to Mrs Hopley, she said she had just been called with news a £1,300 funeral payment had been cancelled.

John, who had worked as a labourer and roofer, was forced to retire after his cancer diagnosis, which led to two bone marrow transplants and eventual blindness last year.

He had received disability living allowance, which helped pay for his mobility scooter, and employment support allowance, and she said both had been immediately cut off.

The former factory worker said because all of the family payments were in her husband’s name she was told she must submit new paperwork, meaning it would be over a month before benefits were reinstated.

She said her children, aged 15 and 19, had been “devastated” since their father died, and added: “I’ve tried not to tell them about my money worries, but since my husband died just I don’t know what I’m going to do.

“My family have tried to support me, but there’s not much they can do.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Work and Pensions, which manages benefits, told the ECHO it was standard policy to cancel payments immediately after a person died. And they s aid a decision would be made over funeral costs after more paperwork had been submitted.

They added: “We would like to extend our condolences to Mrs Hopley and her family, at what must be a very difficult time.

“There are a range of benefits in place, including Bereavement Allowance to support people during times like these.

“We will be in contact with Mrs Hopley to ensure she receives her full benefit entitlement.”


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