Stoke & Staffordshire

Valerie Grant took her own life after son lost benefits

James and his mother Image copyright Grant family
Image caption Valerie Grant had looked after her severely autistic son all his life

A mother killed herself after her disabled son lost a string of benefits and support, a coroner said.

Valerie Grant, 73, walked in front of a train near Stafford on 23 April.

Her severely autistic son James, 37, had lost his job placement and been told he no longer qualified for disability benefits shortly before his mother died.

Coroner Andrew Haigh said he did not know who to complain to because she was let down by so many agencies.

Mr Haigh has previously raised concerns over links between suicides and the loss of benefits.

In the months before Mrs Grant's death, several agencies withdrew support from James.

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'What do I have to do?'

He had lost a placement as a bin man, no longer qualified for a day care centre and had been turned down for accommodation, the inquest heard.

He had also just been notified that he would lose disability living allowance in May and did not qualify for PIP - personal independence payments.

Mrs Grant, who had a history of depression, had previously said when interviewed by mental health workers: "What have I got to do? Top myself to get help for my son?"

On 10 January, she confided in her GP that she had suicidal thoughts and when tested, scored 96% for the severity of her mental health state. She was given a routine appointment which she never attended.

The inquest in Cannock concluded she had taken her own life whilst suffering from depression.

'One blames another'

Mr Haigh accepted that lack of support was probably the main issue.

"There were a number of agencies involved, but nobody took a lead.

"I do have concerns about the lack of support, but I don't think there's any one agency that I can write to to try to remedy this," he said.

Mrs Grant's stepson, Stuart Grant, shouted at the hearing: "It is just being swept under the carpet.

"One agency blames another agency and they can get away with it."

Mr Haigh said that if family members wanted to write to him, he would give the matter further consideration.

Helplines

Samaritans - 116 123

Carers UK - 0808 808 7777

Mind - 0300 123 3393 or text 86463

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