'A debt-ridden single dad of three who had waited weeks for Universal Credit took his own life — with just £4.61 left in his bank account.
Phillip Herron, 34, was trying to feed and clothe his family while out of work, falling behind with rent and trying to repay £20,000 debts — including payday loans of over 1,000 per cent interest.
He applied for government help but the month-long wait for Universal Credit drove him deeper into debt.
“That was the final nail in his coffin,” said his grieving mum Sheena Derbyshire, 54.
Phillip’s final act as he sat in his car on a quiet country lane on March 18 was to upload a picture of himself crying to social media.
Minutes later he was dead.
“In his suicide note he said his family would be better off if he wasn’t there any more,” Sheena added.
“He was a single dad. He was responsible. He always had money before and the kids had the best of everything.
“But Phillip had quit his job as a factory worker recently to look after his young kids and he got in to debt, which must have been difficult for him.
“To suddenly have no money for them must have been very hard. He was waiting for Universal Credit and had just £4.61 when he died.
“When people turn to the Government for help they’re already desperate. To make them wait so long for payments is dangerous.
“There’s no reason it should take so long. Phillip already had problems but I think this was the final straw.”
Universal Credit – brought in by the Coalition Government 2013 and rolled out nationwide since – was meant to replace a series of benefits with just one.
But it is paid monthly in arrears, meaning an average wait of five weeks for the first payment.
Labour claims the delay drives families into debt, poverty and eviction and aims to reform it.'
Read more: Single dad with just £4.61 took own life after waiting weeks for Universal Credit
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22 November 2019
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