George Osborne sobbed in a public show of grief at Margaret Thatcher’s funeral – meanwhile there were private tears for a victim of his government’s welfare cuts.
They came after a dad of two killed himself because he was losing his disability benefits, the Sunday People reports.
Former sheep farmer Nick Barker, 51, was told he was fit for work, even though a brain haemorrage had left him struggling to walk.
He shot himself after the shock verdict by Atos, the private drafted in by the Department of Work and Pensions to cut claimants.
His family were still reeling from the tragedy when Tory Chancellor Mr Osborne was pictured weeping at last Wednesday’s service in London for Baroness Thatcher.
Nick’s ex-wife Linda, the mother of his children, said yesterday: “It doesn’t seem right to see George Osborne crying over Margaret Thatcher when tragedies are happening because of the way his government is reforming the benefits system.”
Linda, 52, who was still close friends with Nick, added: “He was a lovely man. I can’t help but feel anger. It was clearly distressing him. He wanted a way out.”
Nick had been told he did not score enough points to continue receiving benefits.
But Linda, a chef who was wed to him for 12 years, said: “He clearly couldn’t work. He should have been top of the list for benefits. The points system doesn’t work.”
An inquest in Scarborough, North Yorks, heard Nick was found dead eight days before his appeal against the decision.
He had raised concerns with his GP about losing his income. Recording a suicide verdict , coroner Michael Oakley said the benefits assessment was key to the tragedy.
He said: “The main factor worrying him was his benefits. His appeal might have been successful – but it didn’t get that far.
“It is evident the matter was concerning him greatly.”
Nick collapsed while working on his farm in 1988 after a weak blood vessel in his brain caused the haemorrhage. It left him paralysed down the left side.
Linda said: “He couldn’t walk, feed or dress himself. Over the years he learnt to walk again and do more things but he clearly wasn’t able to work.
“He would be out of breath just popping to the shops.”
Government figures reveal that 1,300 people have died after being told they should start preparing to go back to work.
Labour MP Michael Meacher told Parliament that Atos was paid £110million a year and a further £60million of public money was going on appeals.
And an Atos executive apologised last week to long term sick people incorrectly labelled fit for work. A third of its decisions have been overturned.
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