Housing benefit mix-ups misery

TWO Ipswich women are fuming today after a series of mix-ups and delays in the housing benefits system caused them major headaches.Vital documents belonging to Victoria Pyett went missing in the post and Gemma Sayers was issued with a court summons as they both struggled to get their separate cases sorted.

TWO Ipswich women are fuming today after a series of mix-ups and delays in the housing benefits system caused them major headaches.

Vital documents belonging to Victoria Pyett went missing in the post and Gemma Sayers was issued with a court summons as they both struggled to get their separate cases sorted.

Twenty-year-old Gemma Sayers of Bramford Lane said she was extremely frustrated by the system which she has been fighting for more than a year.

Ms Sayers, who is unemployed and spends much of her time volunteering, is eligible for housing benefits but has had a continuous stream of letters demanding payment of money Ipswich Borough Council said she owed.

She said: “In the past 12 months I have received 23 requests to pay council tax.

“I don't think I should be subjected to this type of hassle and it got even worse when I got the court summons.

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“That really worried me because I hadn't done anything wrong but I was being told I had to go to court.

“Plus they stopped giving me housing benefits and it means I could be evicted as I don't have the money to pay my rent.

“I know it's not the staff's fault because they have to work with a really bureaucratic system.”

Meanwhile Victoria Pyett, 27, explained that she had moved to her home in Clover Close in July and had sent off her birth certificate, her husband's adoption certificate, three months of bank statements, and five weeks of wage slip to Ipswich Borough Council so her change in circumstances could be processed.

But they were never returned to her.

And although Mrs Pyett and her 37-year-old husband, Tony, had been able to claim benefits in their previous house they were eventually told in December that they could no longer receive any support for paying their rent.

The mum-of-four said: “I don't mind that we're not allowed benefits it's just a shame that it took so long and we weren't told what was going on.

“Every time I rang I was told there was a backlog and it's taken so long to get sorted.

“When I started ringing about my documents I was either told they had been sent or they were about to be sent.

“Finally it was admitted they had been lost and I was given £100 compensation because getting those documents back is very expensive.”

A spokesman for Ipswich Borough Council said: “Both these claims have now been resolved and the claimants have been informed.

“We apologise for any distress caused.”

He added that both cases had been complicated which is why there had been delays in the claims being processed.

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