May 22 2013 Latest news:
By Victoria Kalbraier
Thursday, February 14, 2013
A STUDENT has today spoken of his disgust after he was refused help with his mother’s funeral costs because he was not on benefits.
Lee Brade, 23, was told he wasn’t eligible to receive money from the Department for Work and Pensions’ Social Fund – despite having no money to meet the costs of laying his mum to rest.
Lee’s mother Rosalind Gordon, who rented a house in the Stoke area of Ipswich, died on February 3, aged 56, after losing her fight against a second bout of cancer.
Only child Lee, who is in his second year studying popular music at Wolverhampton University and hopes to become a teacher, contacted the fund for help to pay the £2,200 funeral costs.
He said: “When I rang the Social Fund, I explained the situation and what my financial situation was. My mum had no life insurance policy and no savings and I was just told no as soon as I said I was a student.”
Lee made several calls to the fund and to Ipswich Borough Council and was given the numbers of a variety of charities and organisations – but no-one was able to help.
“I got really frustrated as I was just going in circles,” Lee said. “The tactlessness and lack of help from the Social Fund, the council and the government just because I’m not on benefits was appalling.
Lee was told if he went part-time on his course he could get financial help. It was also suggested at one point that he use his student loan to cover the costs of the funeral.
Eventually, he gave up on the fund and approached his father for help. He said: “My father helped with the funeral costs, but my parents have been separated for 20 years. I didn’t want to have to ask him for that favour.
“Fortunately, I’ve got a good support network – but if it literally was just me, I think I would have had to leave university for a year to sort my mum’s funeral out and that’s just ridiculous. I just think it’s revolting to be honest.
“Every single number I called – and I rang at least 20 different numbers – said because you’re not on benefits, we’re not able to help you. It’s just horrible to hear.
“It’s the hypocrisy of saying we want people off benefits – when people on benefits are favoured over everyone else.”