A mum has been hit with a Universal Credit sanction after a blunder that wasn’t her fault. Charlie Cotton, from Staffordshire, says it’s come at the worst possible time.
Charlie, aged 23, went on maternity leave to look after her baby daughter Darcie back at the end of last year, and started receiving Universal Credit payments. An admin error meant that she’d been paid £738 more than she should have been.
She told StokeonTrentLive: “My earnings weren’t declared correctly (by my employer), so Universal Credit did not receive the information it needed. As a result I’ve had to make two repayments so far, which have been taken off my entitlement. It’s money I can’t afford to have taken off as a sole parent.”
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Charlie added: “If it’s dark and I need to look at something, I have to walk around with the torch on my phone rather than put a lamp on. I probably do washing once a fortnight now. I eat at night but don’t eat anything during the day. It’s a mixture of not being able to afford it, and knowing I would rather put food in my daughter’s mouth. I would rather know I had bought food for her than for me.”
She said it was particularly difficult providing everything on such a basic income while she was unable to work, while “Boris Johnson probably doesn’t even know the cost of a loaf of bread”. Charlie added: “I think a lot of people are kind of ashamed to talk about it, but if people don’t talk about it then no-one knows how difficult it is.”
A spokesman for the Department For Work and Pensions (DWP), said: “Unfortunately, Ms Cotton incurred a benefit overpayment after her employer was late in reporting her maternity pay. We will get in touch with Ms Cotton to provide support and information on discussing manageable repayments with our recovery team.”
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Source: Healthy Duck.