Benefit 'blunder' angers OCD sufferer

An OCD sufferer who is permitted to work part-time while claiming income support today claimed benefits bureaucrats have treated him like a fraud.

IPSWICH: An OCD sufferer who is permitted to work part-time while claiming income support today claimed benefits bureaucrats have treated him like a fraud.

By law, 45-year-old Ipswich man Paul Maguire is entitled to earn up to �20 a week on top of the benefit he receives for obsessive compulsive disorder.

But, after five years of pulling pints on match days at Ipswich Town's Portman Road, Mr Maguire was told to repay the government all the money he had earned behind the bar.

The Dombey Road resident, whose arthritic wife Diane also claims benefits, won an appeal earlier this year against JobCentre claims that the couple had been overpaid welfare.

But Mr Maguire, who is still working at the ground, says he has been deducted �230 from fortnightly benefit cheques since April, despite the JobCentre admitting the slip in writing last month.

He said: “My wife turns 60 next year and I hope to be in full time employment again by then.

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“Jobs are getting scarce, I'm untrained and unskilled, but I have now gained the experience I need working behind the bar. I could choose not to find a job and go on collecting benefits but I want to go back to work.

“I've always declared the extra money I have earned and put it through the books but now I'm being treated like a benefit fraud. They've probably spent more money chasing me up than I've earned in the last few years.”

According to the Department for Work and Pensions, Mr Maguire owes a total of �454.53 in cash he was not entitled to earn.

But a spokesman for the department said it was aware of the issue and had already been working on it.

“We sincerely regret any inconvenience caused to Mr and Mrs Maguire,” added the spokesman

Mr Maguire worked full time as a security guard until 2002 when he was diagnosed with OCD.

“Working a few hours a week has really helped me take the first steps back into employment,” he said. “I'm not defrauding anyone and only making about �20 a week on top of the �130 my wife and I receive.”

Should Mr Maguire be allowed to work while claiming benefits? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk