Heartbroken dad reveals agony as decision to axe his son's benefits is overturned.. weeks after his boy killed himself

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Daily Record

By Craig McDonald


DAVID Barr took his own life after the decision to stop his benefit was upheld but the DWP have now admitted that decision has been overturned as there were gaps in the medical history they had for David.

David Barr is devastated by his son’s suicide
David McNie

A GRIEVING dad revealed his devastation yesterday aftr learning the decision to axe his son’s benefits had been overturned – after his boy killed himself.

David Barr, who had serious mental health problems, took his own life after he was ruled fit to work and told his money was being stopped.

His dad, also David, met Department for Work and Pensions bosses last week over his son’s case.

Officials told him that the decision had been reversed following a review of the case after his son died. They admitted to him that there were gaps in the medical history they had for David jnr as he was moving about.

David snr last night called for a fatal accident inquiry so lessons could be learned from his son’s tragic death.

He said: “DWP people agreed to come to see me after I notified them I was making an official complaint.

“They said they had actually changed the decision to stop his benefits – and that he would have won his appeal.

“But they said the decision was only reached after David died. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. It’s too late for us – far too late.

“They told me they are going to have a discussion about his case and that it would be investigated. They also said they were unaware of David’s history as he had changed addresses.

“They said they should have made more effort to study David’s medical reports.

“They said they would change their systems – but it’s no use to us now. We are just heartbroken at what happened to David. They just sat there squirming.

“I am meeting with my lawyer and will press for a fatal accident inquiry in the hope that any lessons can be learned from what our family has gone through.”

We told last month how David blames benefits axemen for driving his son to suicide. David jnr, 28, threw himself from the Forth Road Bridge after the decision to stop his benefit was upheld.

Atos ruled David was fit to work despite being on anti-psychotic sedatives, sleeping tablets and antidepressants. His condition was recorded on a medical assessment as “anxiety and depression”.

But David snr, 57, of Leven, Fife, said his son had problems including memory loss, sleeplessness and paranoia – and believes he may have been schizophrenic.

David jnr worked cleaning buses for three years until 2011. His dad says his son could not cope with the routine of holding down a job.

David jnr was assessed in May. In June, the DWP told him he was fit to work – and his employment and support allowance was being withdrawn.

He was informed on July 17 that the DWP upheld the Atos recommendation. On the evening of Friday, August 23, he got a bus to the bridge, walked to the middle and jumped.

David snr said: “They said David was fit for work but, in fact, he was fit for hospital. I would say they are 90 per cent to blame for him taking his life. He’d just had enough.”

A DWP spokeswoman said yesterday: “We remain in close contact with Mr Barr’s family.

“Through a series of independent reviews and by working with medical experts including mental health organisations and charities, we have considerably improved the work capability assessment process since 2010.

“Decisions are made after careful consideration of all the evidence made available to us from the claimant, their GP and their healthcare professional.

“The percentage of people entitled to employment and support allowance is at its highest level, with over half of people completing an assessment eligible for the benefit.”

Atos stressed that their doctors only make recommendations on whether claimants are fit for work, with the decision being taken by the DWP.

A spokeswoman said: “We do everything we can to minimise people’s anxiety during the work capability assessment process and will continue to strive for improvement in this area.”

A Crown Office spokesman said a report had gone to the procurator fiscal. He added: “The investigation, under the direction of the Scottish Fatalities Investigation Unit, is ongoing and the family will be kept updated in relation to any significant developments.”