BENEFITS chiefs have apologised to a mum who couldn’t afford Christmas presents after her money was stopped in error.
Louisa Kelly lost more than £1000 during the five-month ordeal.
Officials had failed to reinstate the 43-year-old’s child tax credits as the case fell through the cracks between Whitehall departments. That left the mum-of-five without any money to heat her home – or buy Christmas presents for her children.
Lousia, from Dalkeith, Midlothian, was caught between the Department of Work and Pensions and HMRC following a mix-up over her claims.
She was advised to apply for the Universal Credit benefit but still went without cash after withdrawing her claim.
With the buck being passed from department to department, no one would take responsibility for her case. But after The Sunday Post raised her case and told her story on Christmas Eve, she received an apology and all her owed benefits.
“It’s a relief that this is all over,” Lousia said.
“I had hoped not to change to Universal Credit but at least that got it sorted quickly.
“The woman I spoke to said I will now be slightly better off [than before the child tax credits were stopped] but I won’t know until I see the figures on paper.
“I think it’s a disgrace that they can leave somebody for almost five months when nobody was admitting liability.
“They think a quick telephone apology is acceptable. This went on for months and any other time I probably would have given up but I was determined to get what I was entitled to.”
Universal Credit combines six benefits into one single monthly payment. Citizens Advice Scotland has said it risks leaving thousands of Scots in poverty and debt.
Louisa had her employment support stopped because of a missed Work Capability Assessment last August.
She was then advised to shift to Universal Credit, which resulted in HMRC stopping the payment of Child Tax Credits, although her Employment Support Allowance and Housing Benefits were paid in full after an appeal.
Her local MP, Labour’s Danielle Rowley, stepped in and provided her with food bank vouchers so she could eat over the festive period.
Ms Rowley said: “I’m really glad this has been resolved and Louisa has her money. However, this has only come after pressure from my office and The Sunday Post and it is just one case of many that has seen people’s money halted because of problems with Universal Credit.”
A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: “We have apologised to Ms Kelly for the delay in reassessing her claim and paid all the arrears due.”
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