THE sisters of two men who starved to death following benefits errors are meeting for the first time to campaign against the Government’s austerity measures.

Mark Wood, from Bampton, died in February weighing just five-and-a-half stone after the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) declared him fit to work and took away his disability benefit.

Diabetic David Clapson died in July last year after his benefits were cut off when he missed an appointment at the Job Centre.

The 59-year-old, from Stevenage, died because he had no electricity and could not keep his insulin at the right temperature.

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He had six teabags, a tin of sardines and a can of tomato soup in his kitchen and £3.44 in the bank.

Now their sisters – Cathie Wood and Gill Thompson – will speak together at a public meeting in the Prime Minister’s constituency of Witney on Thursday.

Ms Wood, from North Oxford, said: “I’m doing this because Mark was a constituent of David Cameron and the Government is completely hiding what it’s up to on this stuff.

“I want to keep the pressure on them. If they are going to sacrifice the really vulnerable they should come out and say it.

“They can’t just gloss it over like David Cameron usually does.”

Gill Thompson

The 49-year-old said: “There was an appeal launched posthumously against the Department for Work and Pensions and we won that very, very quickly.

“They admitted that they made the wrong decision, but they didn’t explain why.

“They said they would publish the results of an internal inquiry in June, and nothing happened.

“They keep saying they’ll do it and they never do.

“We get different answers every time we ask: in December, the new year, next week.

“They’re telling a lot of different stories and playing for time.”

Mrs Thompson, from London, successfully campaigned for an independent inquiry into Mr Clapson’s death after DWP insisted correct procedures had been followed.

She said: “I don’t want revenge or compensation, I just want lessons to be learned. There is no humanity and they’re getting the little people. Why sanction vulnerable and needy people? I don’t think anyone should die like that in this country; alone, hungry and penniless.”

Thursday’s event has been arranged by the Green Party, as Mr Wood was a volunteer for the Witney branch.

The branch’s prospective parliamentary candidate Stuart Macdonald said: “Mark was a friend of mine. His death should not have happened, full stop.

“In a civilised society it’s quite wrong for this to happen.”

Witney MP and Prime Minister David Cameron, who has said he was unable to attend the meeting, said: “This is a tragic case and my thoughts remain with the families who have lost their loved ones in terrible circumstances.

“I will assist in any way I can to help find the answers to make sure that lessons are learnt."”

Edward Davies, a DWP spokesman, said: “We are conducting a thorough internal review of Mark Wood’s case, which we expect to conclude shortly.

“We will of course share the full findings with Mr Wood’s family as soon as possible.”

The meeting that the sisters will speak at, which is open to the public, will be held at 7.30pm at the Langdale Hall, in Langdale Gate, Witney.

 

 

 

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