An elderly man was surprised after opening a letter from the council containing condolences about his death. Madan-lal Kosla, 83, was horrified when he opened a notification from Manchester City Council explaining he was no longer eligible for council tax support because he was dead. The notification, addressed to Mr Kosla’s wife Sudesh, contained condolences on behalf of the local authority. It said: “I am sorry to hear of your partner’s death on the 18th of May.
“Please accept my condolences. I am sorry to write to you at this difficult time but as the claim for council tax support was in your partner’s name I have cancelled payments from 18th of May.”
Mr Kosla had opened the letter because his wife struggles to read or speak English.
He said he was shocked the council had made such a ‘serious mistake’ but after an investigation they said the error had been made by the Department for Work and Pensions.
“We are both very angry by what has happened,” Mr Kosla said.
“What if I had been away and someone else had opened that letter?
They would think I’m dead. I had to pinch myself when I read it.”
The grandfather-of-nine informed the council of the mistake and was told to go his local job centre to prove he was alive.
“They said go to the job centre, take a passport and show them you’re not dead,” he added.
“My wife is very angry about this too.
It has inconvenienced us both and caused us both a lot of stress.”
A Manchester City Council spokesman blamed the Department for Work and Pensions for the mistake.
A council spokesman said: “We have apologised to Mr Kosla and his family for the letter we sent and would like to once again extend our most sincere apologies to them for the distress this must have caused.
“The letter was generated as a result of direct information we were given by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) about Mr Kosla that we now know was incorrect.
We receive hundreds of notifications each day from them and had no reason to suppose the information received about Mr Kosla was anything other than correct - hence our letter to his family.
We will be raising our concerns with the DWP about the robustness of the data they share with us and the misinformation they gave us about Mr Kosla.”
A DWP spokesperson said: “We have spoken with Mr Kosla to offer our apologies. We are also taking steps to ensure this does not happen again in future.”