ACTION DESK: Sheffield Council ‘sorry’ for housing benefit blunder

Malcolm Foster, of Abbeydale Road, Sheffield, pictured outside his home. Picture: Marie Caley NSST Foster MC 3
Malcolm Foster, of Abbeydale Road, Sheffield, pictured outside his home. Picture: Marie Caley NSST Foster MC 3
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Sheffield Council has been forced to apologise after admitting they were wrong to claim they had overpaid thousands of pounds worth of housing benefit to a tenant.

Malcolm Foster aged 52, of Abbeydale Road, was left ‘stunned’ after Council chiefs landed a letter on his door asking to pay back £2,500 which claimed had been paid to him following a reassessment.

It was claimed that Malcolm’s daughter did not qualify as a full-time student, which meant he had been overpaid a considerable amount and had to pay it back.

This was all despite a lecturer at Longley Sixth Form College signing and confirming in writing that Malcolm’s daughter was enrolled in a full-time education programme.

A debt recovery letter was sent out and Malcolm appealed the decision, his housing benefits were stopped leaving him behind on his rent.

But when Action Desk contacted Sheffield Council to look into the case highlighting Malcolm’s concerns, Sheffield Council admitted they got it wrong and have apologised for their error.

Malcolm said: “I’m very happy that the council has realised they have made a mistake and it will be good to know I won’t be getting repossession orders through the door anymore,

“But this could’ve been sorted this way back in June when I first flagged this up - I’m just glad I carried on disputing people and I hope others who might find themselves in this position to do the same and contest it.

“It’s only because of Action Desk that they’ve actually done something about.”

A spokesperson from Sheffield City Council said: “We have a duty to taxpayers to make sure we only pay housing benefit to people who are entitled to it, and have been discussing Mr Foster’s claim with him for some time.

“Mr Foster provided extra information to us and we reviewed the case in light of this and identified an error. This has now been corrected and Mr Foster’s payments have been amended and the overpayment cleared.

We would like to apologise to Mr Foster for this.”

Anyone with any concerns about their benefits should contact Sheffield Council on 0114 273 6777.