A SINGLE dad of three who had under £5 in his bank account took his own life as he drowned in debt waiting for Universal Credit.
Phillip Herron, 34, struggled to feed and clothe his three kids while he looked for work, fell behind with the rent and was trying to repay debts totalling £20,000 - some of which were payday loans of 1,000 per cent interest.
He applied for government help but had to wait a month for Universal Credit which drove him further into debt.
It all finally got too much for Phillip and in a final act he uploaded a picture of himself crying to social media as he sat in his car on a quiet country lane on March 18.
Just a few minutes after taking the photo he was dead.
His mum, Sheena Derbyshire, 54, told the Media “In his suicide note he said his family would be better off if he wasn’t there any more.
“He was a single dad. He was responsible. He always had money before and the kids had the best of everything.
“But Phillip had quit his job as a factory worker recently to look after his young kids and he got in to debt, which must have been difficult for him.
“To suddenly have no money for them must have been very hard. He was waiting for Universal Credit and had just £4.61 when he died.”
Sheena also slammed the system for making people wait so long to receive their payments, saying it was “dangerous”.
She added: “There’s no reason it should take so long. Phillip already had problems but I think this was the final straw.”
Universal credit is currently being rolled out with it replacing six benefits with a single monthly payment.
But there are big problems with the new system - it takes 5 weeks to get the first payment and it could leave some families worse off by thousands of pounds a year.
Initially Sheena couldn’t work out why her son had killed himself but after going through his papers she realised she was in debt to the tune of £20,000 to the banks and utility companies as well as payday lenders.
He had also received an eviction letter from Bernica Homes housing association.
After managing to unlock his phone Sheena then trawled through emails and listened to months of calls he had recorded.
She was shocked to hear her previously softly spoken son often screaming as well as shouting at his kids and he could also be heard crying in some.
He also talked about suicide to others.
Sheena said: “I wish he’d told us how he was feeling but we never knew.
“Listening to those last few months of calls I started asking myself, ‘Who is this person?’ He’d changed so much so very quickly.
We need to support the people around us,to prevent nasty incidences like this
Thank you for your audience