A family served with an eviction notice has been left ‘scared’ after housing benefits were delayed which a mother claims was down to an ‘error’ by the district council.
Michelle Johnston, 23, her partner Leo Nas, 23, and their four-year-old son Joshua of Pulborough are currently looking for new accommodation after confusion in a housing benefit claim led to a delay in payments.
When their monthly payment did not arrive in May, Miss Johnston enquired with Horsham District Council (HDC) only to discover that her benefits were being placed on hold for an investigation by benefit service CenSus (which works in conjunction with HDC).
Miss Johnston said: “Sadly for my family it has now caused us to lose our home.
“In all honesty, I am feeling very drained and becoming very down about this whole situation.”
On May 21, Miss Johnston received a letter from HDC stating that her council tax support and housing benefit had been stopped.
Miss Johnston continued: “I contacted housing benefit questioning why my benefit had been stopped, the response I got was that the certificate of earnings hadn’t been filled in correctly.
“On the same day I went to HDC to see a housing benefit adviser. They told me that my claim should have never been closed as housing benefit had my partner’s contract for his work which also has his annual income on it.”
Miss Johnston also claimed that the housing adviser discovered that she is in receipt of working tax credits, which caused an overpayment and now HDC is deducting £15.95 a week from her benefit.
She said: “I feel this is not my error and I should not have to pay this back as I had handed in all the relevant paper work at the beginning of my claim showing all my income.”
Leo Nas currently works as a mechanic in Pulborough but does not earn enough income to afford the rent. Michelle has now found employment to help them come off the benefits.
“I no longer want to rely on housing benefit as they clearly do more damage than good,” she added.
HDC has resolved the housing benefit issue, but Miss Johnston and her family will still need to find a new home.
A representative at HDC said: “We are sorry that Miss Johnston feels disappointed with the service that she has received from CenSus.
“We are only able to pay benefit when an applicant provides all the necessary information to make an assessment.
“We have looked carefully at this case and we are satisfied that Miss Johnston has received the correct entitlement to benefit based on the information provided.
“Benefit was paid within two days of Miss Johnston providing the information.
“We have been in regular contact with Miss Johnson since March 3.”