A couple who raised their grandson after a family breakup have been offered child support 19 years after he came to live with them and 18 months after he took his own life.
David and Rosemary Wickenden from Southampton received a letter from the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) earlier this week, welcoming them to the their service and noting that the agency was now managing their payments for their grandson Mitchell, who was born in 1987.
The couple had given a home to Mitchell, then aged 8, and his sister Sadie back in 1995, after their unemployed son Paul and his partner split up.
They had applied to the Child Support Agency for maintenance at the time, Mr Wickenden told the Southern Daily Echo.
“… we were told we could not claim off our son Paul because he was out of work. We got some money from their mother but it ended quickly. Then we got this letter and I was just amazed. I thought child support ran out at 16? And if he was still alive Mitchell would be 27 so how can something like this happen?”
Mitchell joined the army and served in Iraq, but later succumbed to depression after losing his job and splitting up with his girlfriend. He took his own life in October 2012.
Mr Wickenden, now 74, said: “We were only just beginning to get over our grief”.
He continued: “We did all the legwork for child support years ago but never got anywhere, so this just shows what a mess they can make of it. It’s pure carelessness and I think we deserve an apology.”
A spokesman for the CMS responded to enquiries by the Southern Daily Echo, saying the letter had been sent “in error”.
“We apologise for the obvious distress this has caused. We are urgently investigating how this has happened and will be in touch with the family shortly.”