Star sorts out benefits problem

A SINGLE mother who was left without benefits after a Department of Work and Pensions error has thanked the Evening Star for coming to the rescue.

A SINGLE mother who was left without benefits after a Department of Work and Pensions error has thanked the Evening Star for coming to the rescue.

Jodene Lucy Harris, 28, of Norwich Road, Claydon, was horrified when she realised in November that her benefits had been stopped and her personal details changed.

Her payments were resumed, but her children's ages had been altered and could not be changed back, meaning she did not receive the winter fuel allowance she was entitled to.

Mrs Harris said: “They phoned me on Tuesday and the lady was very apologetic. She said she had just seen there was a complaint on the system and that the money would be in my account by Thursday.

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“I said I was absolutely horrified by the way I had been treated in November, and how upset and depressed I was.

“I am sure the Evening Star made a difference because the woman on the phone was so nice to me whereas before they were so rude.

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“It is a shame I had to get someone else involved before something was done.”

The problems started when Mrs Harris, who has lived in her house for five years, noticed all her usual income support and benefits had stopped in the first week of November with no warning.

She called the job centre and was told that a letter had been sent to her “new address” in Wisbech, and her benefits had been cancelled when she failed to respond.

She said: “I just think this is terrible. I phoned lots of people, but everybody blamed me for not telling them I had moved house, when I hadn't at all.

“It was just a nightmare, I felt like I was the one in the wrong.”

Mrs Harris went to the job centre to prove she had not moved house, and while there she realised the birthdays of her children Shannon, nine, and Stefan had also been altered.

Stefan, two, was now listed as aged six, meaning that Mrs Harris was ineligible for cold weather benefit, because she allegedly did not have a child aged five or below.

Staff told her his details could not be amended because they had already been changed once on the system.

The Star contacted the Department of Work and Pensions to draw the matter to their attention, and just a day later Mrs Harris received a call telling her the situation had been resolved.

A spokesman for the DWP said: “We deal with thousands of claims every day which are dealt with accurately and quickly.

“However, on this occasion an error was made which has been rectified and we apologise for any inconvenience and distress this may have caused.”

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