Written evidence from anonymised CLP0019

I am a single working Mother and I live literally month to month.  In June 2022 I advance my career by starting a new role within the [sensitive information removed] as a Contracts Officer. Not only was this a career progression, I am now working more hours, earning more and I am proud to say once again paying Tax. Therefore, I am once again contributing to society. 

My previous employer [sensitive information removed] paid staff members on the 30th of the month and my last wage was on 30/6/23. My new employer paid staff on the 24th of the month and my first pay being 24/7/23.  This meant in the assessment period 22/6/23-25/7/23 it appeared I had been paid twice and I therefore received no benefits and lost out on around £800.

This sent me into rent and council tax arrears and financial hardship and despite contacting my MP and quoting previous case law where this was found to be unfair, the DWP wouldn’t help me.  I have been trying to pay off my rent arrears etc since but with little left spare each month, the balance wasn’t reducing quickly.

In February, upon receiving my 23/24 tax code, I checked it with a friend who advised me I had been paying emergency tax since June. I contacted HMRC who confirmed this and corrected my tax code. I was paid a rebate in my March pay of £1522.60.  I contacted the DWP to ensure this wouldn’t stop my claim and they confirmed it would only stop after 6 consecutive nil awards.  I therefore didn’t receive any benefits that month (usually £908 pcm due to my high rental charges) and finally could breath a sigh of relief that I could settle my arrears with the remaining approximately £700 rebate I would be left with over my usual monthly funds.

The dates were then released for the cost of living payment, being the only month in 10 years I received a nil award! I literally broke down in tears as I had been penalised by around £800 in June and sent into arrears through trying to better myself, I finally had a bit of luck and managed to settle the arrears only to then lose out on the £900 cost of living payment.   This has caused me significant distress and worry for the coming winter months and feels very unfair and unjust. 

I had to turn our heating down this winter as I was struggling to meet the bills and had to tell my 11 year old daughter to put layers on. I work from home and sat with numerous blankets and layers on to stay warm, wanting to save the gas for when my Daughter gets home.  Without the costs of living help this winter, I do not know how I will manage. Thank you for taking the time to review my experience.


May 2023