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LETTERS: Benefit officials want to fine me £7,000—for their mistake

This article is over 6 years, 11 months old
Issue 2559
Rob Punton
Rob Punton

I have recently been sanctioned by Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). They claim I have been overpaid over £7,000 in Employment Support Allowance (ESA) benefit.

Three years ago with others I started my own business. Because it was new we didn’t pay ourselves anything.

Later we were told that because of Access to Work rules we needed to pay ourselves 16 hours to not fall foul of permitted work on ESA.

The next thing I knew I was being called into the jobcentre and questioned under caution for fraud with my solicitor present.

I was told that the information I was given was wrong and that I shouldn’t have been claiming anything while paying myself. I explained that it wasn’t deliberate and we had stopped paying ourselves weeks before.

They seemed satisfied and said no further action would be taken.

My Disability Living Allowance (DLA) was stopped last year. I have been waiting months for my assessment for its replacement, the Personal Independence Payment. My mum died recently and I had to postpone my assessment as it fell on the day of her funeral.

My DLA paid for my car and the insurance. I must beg and borrow from friends to keep it from being repossessed. I noticed my ESA had not been paid since the end of April, so on 7 June I rang the DWP.

After waiting on hold for an hour I was told that they were stopping my ESA and charging me over £7,000 for overpayment.

I informed them that this was contrary to their decision at interview. I was told to appeal, which I did. But for now I have absolutely no income at all.

I immediately rang my solicitor and she confirmed my account and has promised to get me advice.

I know I am not alone in this position. Thousands are being persecuted, and some die as a result. I am lucky I have friends and comrades who won’t let me drown in this state shit.

And we will fight this together.

Rob Punton, Birmingham

We need to take back our housing

One of the major planks of Jeremy Corbyn’s election campaign was the issue of housing.

After the appalling events at Grenfell Tower it is now time to demand the takeover of unoccupied property in the London Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, to house those who have been left with nothing.

There is plenty of property sitting doing nothing except waiting for its value to increase.

If we really want to make class demands there is no better place to start. Right here, right now!

This must be the beginning of a campaign to deal with the crisis in housing in this country.

Alan Watts, North London

Make the call, Corbyn, and a million will come

The atmosphere since the election last Thursday has been electric. The success of Jeremy Corbyn has brought back the idea that a different type of society is possible.

But the Tories will not be forced out by deals with the likes of Yvette Cooper and Owen Smith.

It is extremely welcome that John McDonnell has suggested that a million people could take to the streets to force out the Tories. We should use the People’s Assembly protest on 1 July to make this happen.

If Corbyn and McDonnell call people to get out on the streets it would make a massive difference.

The TUC should back this demonstration, and more should be called. This kind of action can deepen the Tories crisis and force them out.

Bethan Turner, Manchester

Homeless due to cuts

There are now 715,000 millionaires living in Britain compared with 508,000 in 2010, with London having the highest concentration of wealthy individuals.

Meanwhile, homelessness is at its highest rate.

One person in 25 is homeless in Westminster, and one in 69 in Brighton.

There is a ‘money tree’ but it is not being shared.

Homelessness is caused by austerity. People forced to sleep rough are banned by fines, let down by awful policies and may be left to die because of welfare cuts.

Austerity cuts are deep, and the most vulnerable in our society are being killed.End austerity to save lives.

Bruno De Oliveira, University of Brighton

DUP could have issues

Socialist Worker is doing an essential job of exposing the bigoted, sectarian Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).

Some of the DUP actually believe their rubbish. For the more sophisticated politicos it’s a useful way of holding their alliance of protestant workers and the ruling class together.

But there is a limit to how effective bigotry is at keeping working class protestants voting for their bosses. The DUP is in danger of losing its working class support if it votes for Theresa May’s austerity.

The Tory Party edifice now rests on the shifting sands of the DUP’s cross-class alliance.

John Shemeld, Nottingham

Healthcare is for all areas

Since Northern Ireland is still part of the UK then the NHS should perform abortions.

You cannot have a country where regions differ in health care.

Trevor Smith, On Facebook

Never trust Labour right

I read your article on the Labour right with interest.

You got that right, there is a hardcore right of the party that just won’t accept Corbyn, no matter how successful he is.

@RacingDaily, On Twitter

The idea of a Labour right is a contradiction in itself. Toe the line or join the Tories!

Dennis Nellany, On Facebook

Are our school buildings safe?

Many new school buildings use external cladding. After the Grenfell Tower fire, is this something teaching union reps should investigate?

I have asked our health and safety rep to look into this issue as we are about to move into a building with external cladding.

Another nearby school may also have an issue and I am sure there are many more. This is of concern to everyone.

David Smith, South London

Councils don’t make repairs

Councils have a lot to answer for. Where I live, the council are doing everything possible to avoid making repairs—regardless of the danger to tenants.

They disregard the rules about time limits and essential repairs.

Esme Richards, On Facebook

Time is short for Theresa

Let’s hope Theresa May won’t last the summer.

Serena Harper-Devereaux, On Facebook

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