THE disabled mother of the youngest British soldier killed in Afghanistan has spoken of her heartbreak at being forced to betray her son’s dying wish.
Lucy Aldridge said her son William would turn in his grave if he knew she was being forced to “fritter away” the £66,000 death-in-service payment that he wanted to pass to his younger brothers George and Archie and fund them through university.
Her £307.80-a-month income support payments were stopped by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) because the compensation took her above the £16,000 savings threshold for claiming benefits. This decision was upheld by an independent tribunal.
Mrs Aldridge, aged 44, of Bromyard, suffers from the debilitating joint condition hypermobility syndrome and cannot work.
She believes a “two-tier” system is punishing her because she is disabled and forcing her to use William’s estate just to get by.
“If I was not disabled and able to work then I would be able to carry out my son’s wishes. But because I am, I can do nothing other than fritter it away on living expenses simply to save the Government and the taxpayer a few thousand pounds.”
Mrs Aldridge said others could easily be caught in the same situation and is campaigning to have regulations reformed.
“William went to war fully believing that if the worst should happen then his family would be looked after, but we are not,” she added.
Rifleman William Aldridge was killed by an IED blast in Sangin on July 10, 2009, whilst helping to extract casualties from a previous explosion in which he too had been injured.
A DWP spokesperson said: “We have an absolute commitment to members of the Armed Forces and their families. Money can never compensate for the loss of a loved one, but families of our servicemen and women who are tragically killed on active duty do receive financial support.
“The Armed Forces Compensation Scheme provides a tax-free lump sum for family members who have been killed in service.”