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Mum ordered to pay back dead son’s benefits

by Lamiat Sabin

A GRIEVING mother was ordered to pay back £41.36 for her dead son’s overpaid benefits to the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), it was revealed yesterday.

Rachel Degaetano received the letter last week after 21-year-old Chae Bennett committed suicide on April 15 this year in woodland near his family home in Barry, Wales.

DWP stated that employment and support allowance (ESA) paid for five days after his death should be given back.

The letter reads: “We are sorry to hear that Mr Bennett has died and apologise for having to get in touch with you at this time. We hope you will appreciate that when public funds are incorrectly paid we are obliged to ask for them to be refunded.”

DWP said it could not comment on individual cases when contacted by the Star.

Ms Degaetano, a mother-of-five and mental health support worker, posted online in response: “Does Iain Duncan Smith need breakfast money?”

The Work and Pensions Secretary had claimed that he could live on £53-a-week jobseeker’s allowance — before blowing £39 of taxpayers’ money on one morning meal.

She added: “Fewer than 55 days after my son takes his own life, because he was let down by a system already underfunded, which this government intends to make further cuts to, they have the audacity to send me this?”

In a damning show of hypocrisy, some MPs who took advantage of expenses have been let off paying whole amounts back to the taxpayer.

Conservative Peter Lilley won an appeal in 2010 over returning a whopping £41,000 in disputed expenses.

Furthermore, the MP for Harpenden had voted strongly in favour of illness and disability benefit cuts.

Now, Mr Duncan Smith wants a further £12 billion slashed from the welfare budget.

Ms Degaetano told Wales Online that the “demons Chae had battled all his life got the better of him” after he struggled to find stable employment.


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