Compensation claim leaves jobless man out of pocket

FELIXSTOWE: Unemployed Alan Wharton never expected to be left out of pocket when he claimed compensation for a mix-up with the benefits he desperately needs to live on.

Mr Wharton, 37, claims it cost him nearly �300 to pursue his claim after staff at the Department for Work and Pensions lost his paperwork in their office – but they only awarded him �50 for the inconvenience of being left penniless.

“I claimed �2,000 because of the impact on my health with not being able to get my medication and the stress it caused us, but I would have accepted less,” he said.

“I was very shocked when they only gave me �50 because it had cost me �280 to pursue the claim without my estimate of how it had affected our lives – money I had to spend out of my benefits.

“It took four months to sort out and I don’t think it is good enough or fair treatment.”

Mr Wharton, who lives with his partner Bev Bull, 42, in Granville Road, Felixstowe, last worked as a chef but cannot work now because of his health problems and needs to claim employment support allowance.

He has the heart condition chronic pericarditis, a pancreatic illness, irritable bowel syndrome, a lung problem, and cannot walk far. He also has mental health problems which have left him suffering depression, including not being able to travel on public transport. His medication includes morphine.

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“Because I have panic attacks I cannot use public transport and have to use taxis and cannot travel alone because of my health problems,” said Mr Wharton, who has been told he will probably never work again.

“When they lost my paperwork, I had to travel to Ipswich to collect counter payments so I had some money and had to make several journeys to and from Felixstowe job centre for advice and help, to fill in forms and make my claim.”

A spokesperson for the Department for Work and Pensions said: “When deciding how much compensation to pay, in addition to considering the inconvenience caused, we make an assessment of the actual costs incurred by the late payment of benefit, such as travel costs, phone bills and bank charges.

“If anyone is unhappy with the decision they can ask for it to be reviewed.”

? Do you think the benefits system needs changing? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN, or send an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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