A widow who claims she was hounded by the council for money in the wake of her husband’s horrific death is calling for better treatment for bereaved benefits claimants.
Karen Siddall said she received more than 100 letters from North East Derbyshire District Council following the death of her husband – many in error – including one addressed to him demanding £1,400.
Nearly a year after Andrew Siddall was killed in a three-person motorbike smash in Wingerworth, Karen has written an open letter to David Cameron, berating the system which saw her family stripped of her husband’s disability benefit – their only income – just days after his death.
“I spent the weeks after his death worrying how we were going to survive without any money coming in” said mum-of-four Karen, of North Wingfield. “There was no safety net. I felt desperate. I felt like killing myself, that’s how bad it was. This was a time when I didn’t know how to cope with my grief, let alone worry about money. I had been with my husband since I was 14 years old.”
Just weeks after her husband’s death, Karen, 46, started working at a local shop to try and get some money for her family.
Since then, she has been inundated with letters from NEDDC regarding changes to her council tax and housing benefits, even threatening eviction.
“One letter was sent to Andrew himself, despite me telling them on numerous occasions he has died. I was so angry I sent them a sarcastic letter from number 13 Pilsley Cemetery. They just responded with the letter addressed to me instead. No apology.”
She added: “It might as well have been my dog that died the way they have treated me.”
A spokesperson for North East Derbyshire District Council, said: “We are continuing to work with Karen on this issue. I can confirm that we do however accept that an error has occurred in a computer generated invoice which was addressed incorrectly. We can only apologise for this error and we are investigating how it happened. Now that we have been made aware we will be contacting Karen to apologise. We are sorry for any distressed caused.”