AN ELDERLY man spent the last months of his life housebound because of delays in getting permission for a place to house his mobility scooter.
Willie Armitage, 76, of Lockwood, had been released from hospital after an operation on his digestive system, which left him weak and unable to drive or walk more than short distances.
To give him independence he was offered a free mobility scooter by the Royal British Legion, which had also promised to provide a shed for the vehicle.
But as Mr Armitage lived in a council property Kirklees Neighbourhood Housing needed to give permission for the shed to be put in place at his Oxford Place home.
But after almost four months permission still had not been given.
And Mr Armitage died on December 21 after being housebound for the last few months of his life.
His twin Jack says he is angry that bureaucratic delays stopped his brother taking advantage of help that was available.
He added: “He never picked up after his operation. He was housebound and he needed a scooter for his independence.
“If he had got that he could have got out and about and he may have recovered better. He used to be an HGV driver and he was very active before he was ill, very social.
“People have gone out of their way to help him but have been let down by the authority.”
Mr Armitage had been put in touch with the British Legion by another armed forces charity, Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families. Anyone who has done a day’s paid service in the forces or their dependents can apply to SSAFA for help and they will liaise with regiments or other organisations to secure help.
Mr Armitage had done two years National Service in the Royal Artillery.
It was SSAFA coordinator Mike Dowling who got in touch with KNH on Mr Armitage’s behalf in September to ask for permission to place a shed in his garden. He said he heard nothing for weeks, then was finally told in December that the matter would be looked at after Christmas.
In January KNH contacted Mr Dowling and asked him to arrange a time with Mr Armitage to discuss the work. Mr Dowling had to tell the officer that Mr Armitage had died.
When Mr Armitage’s family cleared out his home they found an unopened letter which had arrived after his death, giving permission for the shed.
Mr Dowling said changes need to be made in the system to prevent other people being delayed from accessing help that is on offer.
“Social services said they couldn’t supply a scooter so we sorted it out, at zero cost to the council. To simply not have a reply when we asked for permission is indefensible.
“He spent the last few months of his life housebound, waiting for someone to get their finger out.
“Hopefully Willie’s case can prompt improvements in the system for other people.”
A KNH spokeswoman said Mr Dowling’s letter asking for permission was lost in transit between KNH offices and did not reach the surveyor until November.
The surveyor then tried to contact Mr Dowling and a site visit was to be arranged. She then wrote to Mr Armitage, giving permission for the shed to be erected.
She said: “We’re very sorry that we were unable to respond to Mr Dowling’s letter before Mr Armitage died. We are looking into why this happened.
“Unfortunately, no-one at KNH had been told that Mr Armitage had died when the letter was sent.
“We can only apologise for the delay and for any distress that this and the timing of the letter may have caused Mr Armitage’s family.”