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Teenager took his own life after Jobcentre staff threatened to axe his benefits

David Brown, 18, took his own life after Jobcentre staff threatened to sanction his Jobseeker’s Allowance, a coroner’s inquest heard.


A Teesside teenager took his own life after Jobcentre staff threatened to stop his Jobseeker’s Allowance benefit, an inquest into his death has heard.

David Brown, 18, an avid Middlesbrough fan, took his life the day he was due to sign-on because of being put under “immense pressure” to find work, the Gazette Live reports.

Speaking to his mother shortly before his tragic death, David said he wasn’t surprised that benefit claimants were committing suicide, due to “the way the Jobcentre treat people”.

He had also claimed that a “woman at the dole” had been “rude and belittled him”.

Documents recently released by the Department for Work and Pensions, following Freedom of Information requests and pressure from campaigners, revealed there have been at least 49 peer reviews into the suicide of benefit claimants.

David’s body was found by his brother Adam, who had looked through the letterbox at his home after being unable to get inside.

His family told the inquest that David had been “actively” looking for work. But David was allegedly told by Jobcentre staff that his benefits would be sanctioned if he didn’t do more to find employment, even though he had previously found a job only to be “scammed” out of his wages.

David had been searching for an apprenticeship after completing a welding course. “He absolutely loved it and he was really good at it,” his brother Adam said.

“He didn’t want to be a burden”, his sister Grace told the hearing. “He tried hard to look for work.”

Adam’s sister Jenna said: “He was an adventurous teenager who will be remembered for his humour, kindness and courage.

“He was full of energy and had a zest for life”.

She added: “He still had so much to offer as a kind young man and we are all proud to call him a son, brother, grandson and friend.

“He made the world warmer and he will be greatly missed by everyone who knew him.”

Fans at his beloved club Middlesbrough, where he had been a season ticket holder since the age of 11, held a minutes applause to honour his memory on 3 October.

Acting Senior Coroner Clare Bailey ruled David had taken his own life.

The case was raised in Parliament on Wednesday by Labour & Co-operative MP Anna Turnley, where Tory minister David Lidington promised to ask the DWP to “have a look at the particular case she has described”.

But the DWP has since claimed that David was never threatened with a sanction and they weren’t aware of any issues regarding his mental health.

A DWP spokesperson said: “Suicide is a very complex issue and there is no evidence of a link between Mr Brown’s suicide and his interaction with JobCentre Plus.

“Our thoughts are with Mr Brown’s family at this difficult time.”


This article was last updated at 02:10am UTC on 8 December 2016.


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  • Dominique Payne

    :'(

  • Joe Smith

    I wonder if the Centre is making any effort towards identifying the staff involved and taking action. I hope his family are seeking legal advice to sue the staff concerned.

    • David Spagnol

      The Government makes the rules and their senior management staff issue the guidance under which the front-line staff operate. This Tory Government is responsible for these deaths. Yet people still intend to vote for them again. Shifting the blame onto individual staff lets the management and their Tory masters off the hook.

      • MissCostello

        “Shifting the blame onto individual staff lets the management and their Tory masters off the hook.”

        No it doesn’t. BOTH must be held to account. Sounds like you are attempting to shift the attention from those either too cowardly to speak out OR refuse to ABUSE (let’s call it what it is) vulnerable people who need help; not driven to suicide with their whole life ahead of them. Have these ‘individual staff’ not got a heart, brain, conscience to know what they’re doing (or witnessing in silence) is wrong? How many more have to die before someone has the balls to say ‘NO’. How many lives is a job worth?

        • mark vincent

          The UN has issued a report accusing the British Government of grave and systematic abuses of the disabled in the UK.
          By any criteria what this government is doing is not only wrong but criminal, the disabled, the unemployed are now considered non people by this regime, they have stripped the most vulnerable in our society of any semblance of dignity or humanity.

          • MissCostello

            Mark Vincent; Well said.
            This country is on its knees & it’s nothing to do with migrants, Muslims or refugees; lie down with dogs & you get up with fleas. Look no further than this inhuman rabble we call a ‘Government’: obsessed with profit, privilege, power, games of war, at the expense of its OWN people (as you so aptly describe) struggling to survive; subjected to bullying, intimidation, humiliation, threat of sanctions 24/7; who can live with that? Every filthy trick in the book (FACT) is used to starve people into submission, driven to food banks, till they lose the will to live or work for nought. And all for what? So the fat cats at the top (managers, shareholders, CEO, rotten, stinking lot), get their ‘bonus’, take their ‘cut’. And another precious life bites the dust.

        • neal marshall

          Yes, but the staff do not help hold back from this task, I think they enjoy inflicting this oppression on people

          • MissCostello

            “Yes, but the staff do not hold back” ;
            Have I said they did? See my reply (above) to David Spagnol.

      • neal marshall

        What IDS has created in his 6 years is a dictatorship within a democracy

      • Tony Curr

        Apologists are collaborators.

    • neal marshall

      These people have their office names and real names, I have said JCP is a playground for any mind sadist or bully whom chooses to work there, this is evidence of this

      • Joe Smith

        It is quite easy to identify the ‘real’ names & even addresses of staff concerned on various facebook, twitter etc

        • Tony Curr

          Let’s make them afraid for their own safety.

  • Linda Wren

    This Conservative government is practicing Democide. They’re fully aware of people who can’t take no more & commit suicide because of threats of sanctions. Over 2000 in the last year alone. I sincerely hope that those people who threatened him feel proud of themselves. What goes around…..

    • neal marshall

      The unemployed have 3 choices, 1 face sanctions, work for nothing, or work for someone like Sports Direct or Amazon at the mercy of these employment agencies. Myself I would rather be dead than choose any of these. Without trade unions this is what you have

  • paininthehead

    STRANGE THE BBC AREN’T REPORTING THIS

    • neal marshall

      I have said all along, ALL the media are biased against the unemployed

    • Tony Curr

      Not in the slightest. Suppression of inconvenient news is their paid mission in life.

  • UnderTheBedMonster

    The worker at that job center probably got a HUGE raise for doing their part in getting another pesky claimant off the dole.

  • Bunky Spubbler

    We are The Big Brother Corporation and we are your masters, your owners. You are here to work. You may have dreams of becoming an artist, writer, dancer, inventor, healer, whatever, and you may have amazing natural gifts/ talents which you were born to share with the world.. well you can forget about all that. You have signed a Jobseeker’s agreement which is, in effect a contract which removes your rights as a human being and turns your entire life over to us. You are in effect, a slave. Every waking minute you will be focused on what you will do to satisfy our requirements. You must log all your efforts to find work and you must present us with your explanation as to why you haven’t yet done so. We will be keeping track of you and making sure that you have not been lying to us. You will be paid the very smallest amount that we can legally pay you and these can be withdrawn at any time at the discretion of one of our Jobcentre bullies. We call monstrously abusive system “The Benefits System”.
    Just exactly who is really benefitting from this system

  • ericsony

    “Poverty is the worst form of violence.” – Mahatma Gandhi

  • Ian

    No the centre would not poor young man it is a pity these officials don’t try to help people get jobs, a system created. Everyone has a right to have a job and it is all very well for those in jobs to target people on the dole what they don’t realise a knock will come to their door to and they won’t have a job. Stop allowing fake refugees invading your country stop giving away millions when the people suffering need help. This is the hunger games society which has been created and a lot of young people have no hope because globalist companies go off shore. we are all on the same sinking ship and unless we work together to help each other we are all doomed. How to get work communities need to stop working and stop buying products from companies who sack people, get together and create something and help each other I my self who liv in a stinking backward country are being targeted about my income in 2014 of which I have declared everything and they found they made a mistake but because of the growing number of Muslims who have many wives and accept the government support, other people are being targeted and taxed because the government is scared of the threat of Islam and bends over backwards to support them and not it’s own people.

  • neal marshall

    The media plaster the name of anyone whom commits benefit fraud on the front page of their rags, when an incident like this happens it is ignored, this shows they are ALL biased against the unemployed