Welcome to the caring society.
Sadly, Malcolm Burge, 66, killed himself after desperately trying to get help when he was presented with a bill for £809.79 from Newham Council in London after changes to his benefits.
Mr Burge was pursued by Newham Council after his housing benefit was slashed from £89.39 to £44.75 per week, and the council failed to implement the changes immediately due to a backlog in processing the benefit changes by the council. Mr Burge continued to receive the higher amount, which the council sought to recover from him.
Mr Burge had tried to rectify the situation with the council, writing to them and telling them he was “depressed, stressed and suicidal” and “I have no savings or assets. I am not trying to live, I am trying to survive. I can’t remember the last time I had £800.”
Letters were presented at the inquest into his death, held by the West Somerset Coroner, Michael Rose, which showed Mr Burge had repeatedly tried to get help from the council, including trying to telephone them but being ‘bounced around’ the council’s switchboard.
Coroner, Mr Rose, said “People of this age don’t always have laptops or iPads and can’t use the internet. It is almost an excuse now to ignore one’s responsibilities and say ‘look up the website’.”
In his ruling Mr Rose criticised the response of Newham Council, which sent 10 letters asking for the money. “They didn’t fully address Mr Burge’s queries and their tone was not appropriate,” he said. “It seems clear he was a man who needed help and was in distress. Unfortunately, Newham Borough Council were unable to give it to him.
“There was no deliberate attempt to avoid payment, he was overwhelmed by the sum. The council were overwhelmed by the number of cases that they had.” The coroner concluded that Burge had taken his own life.
West Somerset Coroner Michael Rose said he would write to Newham Council to encourage them to establish a system to help the “most vulnerable” residents deal with the benefits system, after examining the case of the pensioner, who took his own life on 28 June last year.
Mr Burge’s niece Sharon Watts said the man had lived in the City of London cemetery with his parents throughout his life. In 1992 his mother died and so Mr Burge became a full-time carer for his father. “He devoted his entire life to helping his father,” Mrs Watts said. “None of us knew. His pride kept him away from asking us and we would have helped him.”
A Newham Council spokesperson said: “Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Mr Burge. In our submission to the coroner, we acknowledged delays and deficiencies in our extensive correspondence through letters and phone calls with Mr Burge. We are sorry if this contributed to his death in any way.” (Source: The Independent)
Yet another unnecessary death as a result of cruel and unnecessary changes to the welfare system. The most vulnerable in our society have become easy targets for government ‘welfare reforms’ – even though they are responsible for a tiny proportion of the total welfare bill.
A catalogue of incompetence from the heart of government to the front line at Newham Council has led to Mr Burge feeling desperate and alone in trying to battle with an overloaded and inefficient bureaucratic system designed to make like as difficult as possible.
Mr Burge’s unfortunate death is a result of the greed for power and financial wealth for a minority in government and their cronies.
This is not government – this is exploitation – institutional psychopathy where the only interests of those in power are their own. They don’t care that they are responsible for numerous deaths because of welfare changes. They don’t care that they are destroying the foundation of our society. They don’t care about anyone or anything which is not of benefit to them.
If the government were a corporation there would be a strong case for the police to investigate based on the law of corporate responsibility. Perhaps they would be found guilty (at the least) of corporate manslaughter, fraud, and so on. But the government are exempt. They have surrounded themselves with fences of deniability and passing the buck.
Despite the propaganda, the government are neither transparent nor working in the interest of the citizens of the UK.
There will (tragically) be more deaths as a direct and indirect result of the immense stress and hardship placed on the most vulnerable in our society as a result of the draconian self-interested policies of the government.
More people, including low-income families, will face more hardship as the wealth they help create is funnelled into the pockets of those who already have more than they need.
Slavery is here, although presented in a very subtle way – think about it.
Our deepest condolences go to the friends and family of Mr Burge.