ACTION DESK: Sheffield pensioner issued debt recovery letter for 10 pence

Pensioner Mavis McLennan has said a debt recovery letter sent by Sheffield Council for 10p has left her stressed
Pensioner Mavis McLennan has said a debt recovery letter sent by Sheffield Council for 10p has left her stressed
Have your say

A pensioner has said she has been left angry and stressed over a debt collection letter sent from Sheffield Council – for just 10 pence.

Mavis McLennan told Action Desk she had ‘no idea’ why she was sent the debt letter which stated that her housing benefit had been overpaid on .

Sheffield Council said a letter was sent due to changes from the Department for Work and Pensions but Mrs McLennan said she hasn’t had ‘proper answers’ why she has been issued it. This is the second debt letter of its kind in three years – the first one for 50 pence in 2013.

Mavis, of Ridgeway Road, Gleadless, added she ‘wasn’t aware’ of any changes in her state or private pension to warrant such a letter.

She said she has been diagnosed with an adult form of acne due to the stress it has caused her and has made several trips to her GP.

The 70-year-old went to council offices to pay the 10 pence debt and said staff who dealt with her query were ‘shocked’ that such a letter had been sent out for such a small amount.

“I don’t understand it, it’s cost more to send the debt letter out to me than what I’ve got to pay back,” Mavis said.

“I think it’s ridiculous sending all this out for 10 pence, the letters I’ve been sent didn’t make any sense – I wouldn’t be surprised if more people have received these letters asking to pay back these sums.

“It’s caused me a lot of stress, I know it’s only a small amount but it’s intimidating when you get a debt recovery letter through the door.”

The pensioner said she ended up paying the sum and when she asked to speak to the council employee who issued the debt letter, she said they refused.

A Sheffield Council spokesperson said: “We have to write to people when their benefit entitlement changes and if they’re overpaid, and this includes details about how to pay.

“Mrs McLennan’s letter said that the ten pence overpayment would be recovered from her entitlement. We’ve been trying to reach her to explain this is normal and to ease her concerns.

“We know that benefit matters can sometimes be confusing so if you’re worried about an overpayments or have any questions please get in touch with us.”