Benefit money lost in confusion over changes

Some people in Lincolnshire have had their benefits suspended due to confusion over allowance changes.

Benefit claimants are being reassessed and moved from incapacity benefit to employment support allowance.

The Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) and Shoreline Housing Partnership said 120 people a month were losing money by not notifying the authorities of change.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said people had to inform local authorities if they were transferred.

Those being reassessed are sent letters informing them of the changes to their entitlements and told they must tell their local council.

'Vulnerable' people

But Tony Gaskins, chief executive of CAB in the area said: "My main worry is people not acting upon their change of circumstances because they think everything is done for them.

"That then leads to them not having housing benefit and council tax benefits paid and getting into rent arrears.

"Some people have vulnerability issues and when the letter says talk to your councillor, do they know what they're telling the council?"

CAB said more than 30 people each week were having their benefits suspended after failing to notify the local authority of changes.

Gemma, who did not provide her surname, from Grimsby, said she lost out on eight weeks worth of benefits when she was moved from job seekers allowance to employment support allowance.

"I ended up losing my property because they didn't pay me the rent that I needed, and then when I did get back-paid I didn't have enough for a deposit because I had to pay the debt off with the previous landlord."

Anne Maggs from Shoreline, which manages social housing, said: "It terrifies me. The changes are so far reaching that I think people are going to have to realise the welfare changes will affect them.

"They've got to ask for help from what ever agency they can."

In a statement DWP said: "When incapacity benefit customers receive initial reassessment letters they are reminded that it is their responsibility to inform their council of any changes that could affect their ongoing entitlement."

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