Widower’s anger over £4 debt letter

Picture Alan Watson. Gerrard Daly who received a demand for �4.13 benefit overpayment for his wife who passed away on Boxing Day.
Picture Alan Watson. Gerrard Daly who received a demand for �4.13 benefit overpayment for his wife who passed away on Boxing Day.
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A Motherwell pensioner hit out at this week after being told he owed £4 in housing benefit following the death of his wife on Boxing Day.

Gerrard Daly said he was disgusted to receive a letter from North Lanarkshire Council highlighting the ‘debt’ and outlining what steps the council was taking to recover the cash.

The 69-year-old’s wife Ann passed away, aged 66, after picking up a series of infections during an 18-week stay at Wishaw General following a heart attack.

The couple had been married for 44 years and Gerrard said he was stunned at the insensitive tone of the letter he received from the council at a time he is trying to cope with the loss of his wife.

He said: “I was disgusted to say the least. To say I was raging at the insensitivity is putting it mildly.

“Everyone I have showed the letter to has said the same thing - how much is it costing them to go through the process of chasing £4.

“To make matters worse I have also received another letter telling me that I underpaid my rent by £11.”

The letter sent to Mr Daly read: “You have been overpaid housing benefit of £4.13.

“This is because your partner has passed away. Please accept our condolences. Details of how the overpayment has been worked out are given below.”

The letter goes on to explain to that ‘a decision has been made that the overpayment is recoverable’ and that payment to Mr Daly’s rent account will be reduced by £4.13 per week until the outstanding amount has been cleared.

A council spokesman said: “We’re duty bound to keep tenants updated of their financial position as a result of any changes in their circumstances.

“Mr Daly can apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment to assist with shortfall in his rent payments and we have arranged for an application form to be issued to him.”