Earby woman’s shock at council letter to dead mum

Maureen Whitehead, from Earby, who's mother received what she thought were insensitive letter from Pendle Council regarding council tax.
Maureen Whitehead, from Earby, who's mother received what she thought were insensitive letter from Pendle Council regarding council tax.

An Earby widow has expressed disappointment with Pendle Council after a receiving an “insensitive letter” regarding her recently deceased mother’s council tax.

Maureen Whitehead, of Valley Gardens, Earby, picked up the letter from behind the door of her mother, Lily Bragg’s former address, a fortnight after she had died on Good Friday.

In the letter addressed to Mrs Bragg, which was unsigned and without a name to it, it stated that Mrs Bragg’s “claim for council tax reduction had been cancelled for the reason shown”, which was death.

However, the letter went on to explain “you may qualify for some reduction based on your new circumstances”.

Within the envelope addressed to Mrs Bragg, there was also similar wording regarding housing benefit entitlement.

Mrs Whitehead believes Pendle Council ought to take more care when dealing with relatives of the deceased as some people could be left distressed at the lack of a personal touch.

She said: “If you’re going to put death on a form, then surely the wording would be different too?

“I think it’s a lack of care; compassion is another word that could be used. I’m not upset, I’m angry.

“The people I have shown it too have been agog that they could send paperwork out like that to a grieving person.

“The fact that it’s a standard letter too, as all they had to do is change the names on it and put it in an envelope without any care or attention.”

Angela Simm, Revenues and Benefits Manager at Liberata, said: “I’d like to apologise to Mrs Whitehead for the upset this impersonal letter has caused.

“We agree that we could have handled the situation more sensitively, and will reconsider our standard letter sent out to relatives in the event of a customer’s death.”

Mrs Whitehead added: “If somebody was not as forgiving as we are ourselves, and say it was a wife who’s husband has just died, she could be very upset.

“Fortunately, we do have a sense of humour and we just said ‘we will ask mum what she wants to do and take it from there’.”