A PENSIONER with dementia was mistakenly told her husband had died in a letter sent by the council.

Brenda Walker, 75, was wrongly offered condolences over the death of her 85-year-old husband Jim, who was in fact alive and living in a nearby care home.

Confused and upset the grandma-of-three called her daughter in a terrible state believing her husband of many years had passed away without her knowledge.

Joanne Wallace, the daughter of Mrs Walker, said: "It was shocking. I was really annoyed.

“My mum rang me up in a terrible state saying ‘why have you kept this from me? Why didn’t you tell me your dad had died?’

“I said ‘where you’ve got this from’ and she said it was in a letter from the council.

“For a split second I thought he had died and the care home had only told my mum. It was awful."

The letter to the great-gran-of-one, of Moor Road, Ireleth was a request for information about Council Tax.

Mrs Wallace, 50, said: “We’ve had enough distress with my dad going to the care home before this happened.”

Mrs Wallace, who lives in Dalton Road, Askam, said she and her mum had called the council asking for a single person’s council tax discount after Mr Walker moved to Aldingham St Cuthberts Nursing Home before Christmas.

She said: “I am disgusted that my mum had to go through this for the sake of somebody clicking the wrong button.

“It is just somebody being careless and it has caused all this grief for my mum.

“My mum really thought my dad had died.”

Mrs Wallace has sent a letter of complaint to the council and wants to know how the mistake happened.

She rang up the council and received an apology, but still felt aggrieved.

She said: “All they said was ‘sorry about that, we’ll update the system.

“But they wouldn’t tell me how it had happened.

“I didn’t think it was good enough causing my mum all that distress.

“I want to know how it happened and how it was allowed to happen.”

Mrs Wallace works for the council tax processing contractor Liberata and has experience in dealing with similar tax issues with another council.

She said: “You check it and you double-check it before you send the letter because it is very sensitive information.

I can’t understand how this has been allowed to be sent out. You don’t just send it out.”

The letter was sent by a member of Barrow Council’s benefits department.

Cllr Dave Pidduck, the leader of the council, apologised for the error. He said: “This is clearly a very unfortunate mistake that has occurred in processing. We are very sorry that this has happened.”

The Mail attempted to contact the council’s director of resources and executive director, who signed the letter without success.