THE family of a single mother who took a fatal overdose after her benefit payments were cut are taking legal action against the government, sparking renewed calls for an inquiry.

The family's plans to sue follow calls from Oldham East and Saddleworth MP Debbie Abrahams, for a full, independent, inquiry into the Department for Work and Pensions handling of at least 27 cases of people who were known to have committed suicide.

In August 2019, Philippa Day, 27, was found collapsed at home in Nottingham beside a letter rejecting her request for an at-home benefits assessment.

Prior to her death she had pleaded repeatedly with benefits officials for help after applying for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) payments.

Last month The Oldham Times reported that more than 1,500 disabled people in Oldham have taken the Government to tribunal over benefit payments, with 57 per cent of them having the original decision overturned.

The benefit – which is not means tested – covers the additional expenses faced by those with disabilities and is worth between £23 and £150 a week, depending on an individual's needs.

Responding to the high number of disabled people in Oldham forced to take the Government to tribunal, The Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People (GMCDP), who work with disabled people across the borough,said the DWP's PIP assessment process “causes immense distress to disabled people who find the entire system abusive”.

“PIP was introduced with the express policy goal of cutting half a million disabled people's benefits. It should be abolished and replaced with a new system co-designed with disabled people,” the organisation added.

The death of Phillipa was one of at least 150 cases that the DWP has reviewed between 2012-2019, after claims that their benefits processes had contributed to the death or injury of claimants, a BBC investigation found.

Last April, Ms Abrahams, read out the names of 29 people who have died in the House of Commons, including Ben McDonald who took his own life in 2015 after being found ‘fit to work’.

In renewed calls for an inquiry, she said: "There is growing evidence that sick and disabled people in receipt of social security support have died prematurely, and that this is associated with different aspects of the social security system. It’s not fit for purpose and is failing to provide a safety net.

“The Government is seriously letting people down by not acting on the numerous warnings over the last seven years or so. “

She added: “There has been no independent investigation to establish the scale or cause of these deaths. Instead, the Government has been left to mark their own homework.”