THE grieving family of a former coal miner who took his own life after being investigated by benefit fraud officers believe he would still be here if he had been told him how much money he needed to repay.
James ‘Jimmy’ Ballentine overdosed on prescription drugs on the day of his twin grandsons’ fourth birthday earlier this year – leaving beside him a suicide note to loved ones which read: “Sorry son you will have to bury me…forgive me leaving you with my debt, cannot take it anymore.”
The proud 60-year-old had months earlier learned he had over-claimed benefits from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) after receiving a letter from the Fraud Investigation Team.
Son Dale Ballentine, 34, told The Northern Echo that while making a new benefits claim late last year he declared he had savings of £7,000.
The father-of-two, who suffered from depression and other mental health issues including schizophrenia, was told he had been over-claiming for a decade as there was a means-tested £6,000 savings cap.
It is understood Mr Ballentine made efforts to find out how much money he owed but was unable to get an answer.
Dale, 34, said: “This is the whole point of our grievance – is if they told him up front (what he owed) I really believed he would have paid it, that would be the end of it and he would still be here.”