A chronically ill dad took his own life just days before Christmas after being told he was fit to return to work – despite doctors warning he was too sick.

Kevin Dooley was found dead after assessors axed his employment support allowance, even though he suffered breathing problems caused by a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

His daughter, who tragically found the painter and decorator, spoke of how he was plunged into depression after a grilling by a firm run for the DWP, as the Mirror reports.

She said: “Christmas will never be the same for our family. The Department for Work and Pensions should be disgusted with themselves.

“Over the last year Dad’s illness got worse, and he got less mobile. Whoever deemed him fit for work is a disgrace.”

Dad-of-three Kevin, 48, was signed off five years ago and made ends meet on a £70-a-week ESA benefit and housing support.

“He wanted to work, but couldn’t,” said 27-year-old Leanne.

She told how her dad had his appeal rejected at Leeds Centre for Health and Disability Assessments, run by outsourcing firm Maximus for the DWP.

“He needed regular haematology appointments and was on three inhalers, steroids and antibiotics,” said the mum of two.

“But because he could walk to the shop and at times minded his grandkids, they said he could work.”

After his appeal failed, Kevin became suicidal. Leanne said: “He worried he’d be homeless as he had to reapply for housing support. He said he thought taking his life was the only way out.”

As Jobcentre staff pressured him, Kevin saw a doctor who confirmed he was too ill to work.

Leanne planned to help him take his case to a tribunal – but on December 17 she and twin sisters Paige and Collette, 18, received a text from their dad saying “I love you”.

Leanne found him at home. He died in hospital three days later.

She now plans to tell an inquest about her dad’s ordeal. “He took his life because of what they did to him,” she said.

The Centre for Health and Disability Assessments said: “We make an assessment of how conditions impact on day-to-day life so DWP can make a decision on an individual’s eligibility for benefits.”

The DWP said a Universal Credit advance payment had been made to Mr Dooley on December 8 after the ESA appeal rejection letter on November 29.

It said his “work requirement” had been turned off because he told his work coach he would be challenging the appeal decision.