Distressed mum killed herself after benefit payment struggle became ‘last straw’

Philippa Day grew "increasingly worried" about her financial situation when her benefits were cut, an inquest heard (Image: Nottingham Post / BPM Media)

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A distressed mum killed herself after struggle to access her benefit payment became the "last straw", an inquest has heard.

Philippa Day, 27, took an overdose in August 2019 and remained in a coma until she died on October 15 of the same year.

Her family has claimed Miss Day, from Mapperley, Nottingham, had her £228 weekly payments reduced to £60 after she applied for Personal Independence Payments (PIP).

Miss Day was in a coma the "entire time until she died" in October, her sister Imogen said.

Gordon Clow, assistant coroner for Nottinghamshire, said Miss Day had taken “excessive medication” before she sadly died, reports Nottinghamshire Live.

He said: “By the time of her death, she had been diagnosed with emotionally unstable personality disorder and other mental health conditions.

“She had a long history of substance misuse, which exacerbated her mental health difficulties.

“She was the mother of a young child, having given birth in 2015.

An inquest at Nottingham Coroners Court heard Miss Day was "increasingly worried" about her financial situation

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“She was awarded welfare benefits including Disability Living Allowance and had made an application for PIP payments.

“She had a history of self-harm and suicidal ideation.

“On August 8, 2019, she was found by her father, she was unconscious and an ambulance was called. She had suffered an overdose and had suffered brain damage.”

A mental health nurse for Nottingham City East Local Mental Health team who worked with Miss Day, described how being a good mum “was the most important thing in her life”.

But the inquest heard that when her Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) payments were stopped, she "was increasingly worried about her financial situation".

The inquest heard that Miss Day also suffered from agoraphobia which developed to the point where she “wouldn’t have been able to go out alone”.

Miss Day had applied for PIP payments towards the end of November 2018, the inquest was told.

The coroner read out evidence that in March 2019, the DWP notified Philippa that her payments had been stopped in January of that year.

Her mental health nurse said: “She hadn’t noticed her payments had been stopped, she was quite chaotic.

“Then was very shocked when she discovered that money had stopped going in.

“She was distressed and saying she couldn’t cope anymore. I started phoning more regularly to see where the PIP applications had got to.”

The inquest heard that in June, Miss Day had “tried to look into what was happening with her benefits but felt overwhelmed".

Her mental health nurse said she enquired about the delay "fairly regularly" and a case manager said she would get back to her.

She told the inquest that she had then visited Miss Day, who “did not have the heating on because of money and she had no food in the fridge”.

Miss Day's DLA (Disability Living Allowance) was reinstated in June and she waited for the PIP to follow. She was then invited for a PIP assessment on August 19.

The mental health nurse said: “She called me and spoke about feeling unable to cope. I know she was incredibly distressed.

“She received a letter for an assessment, unfortunately it was an assessment at a centre so she would have to go out and do that.

“I felt strongly that would be incredibly difficult and challenging for her [to go out].

“I phoned to see if it could be changed to a home assessment but I was told this couldn’t be done without further supporting evidence.

“I felt had given everything I could. I negotiated that this be moved to an appointment I could make with her.”

She said she rang Miss Day, who did not answer, so contacted her father who said was worried about her and had gone to her home, where she was found unconscious.

Speaking of her last conversation with Miss Day, the nurse, said: “I took it that she was done with fighting, with arguing her case.

“It was the last straw for her and she couldn’t cope with that. I never got to speak to her again.”

The inquest heard that Miss Day felt “incredibly guilty” that she could not be a full-time carer for her son, who was cared for by her parents.

The court heard: “She wanted to be a good mum. That was the most important thing in her life.

“She felt very disappointed in herself and she felt others were disappointed with her for not being able to do that.

“She wanted to be able to buy things for her son without asking her parents for money above and beyond the benefits she was receiving."

A DWP spokesperson said: “Our condolences are with Miss Day’s family. As the inquest process is ongoing it would be inappropriate to comment at this time.”

A Capita spokesperson, the DWP's PIP assessment provider, said: “We extend our deepest condolences to Philippa Day’s family over her tragic death.

"We are one of several parties assisting the coroner in relation to the inquest into these sad circumstances and we will continue to cooperate fully with this inquiry."

The inquest will continue on Monday.

The Samaritans is available 24/7 if you need to talk. You can contact them for free by calling 116 123, email [email protected] or head to the website to find your nearest branch. You matter.

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