Hartlepool man who gave up job to look after mother with dementia hits out Universal Credit bosses over deductions
A Hartlepool man who gave up work to look after his elderly mother has criticised benefits bosses for the amount they have taken from his Universal Credit this month.
Steven Hockborn, 52, receives monthly Universal Credit and a carer’s allowance to help him look after his 80-year-old mother who has dementia.
But he says he has been left struggling to pay his bills this month after a court fine deduction from his Universal Credit shot up from £15 to £98, reducing his benefit from £148 to £65.
Mr Hockborn, of Throston, says it is contrary to being told by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) they would not take too much in court fines if it left him with insufficient money.
The DWP says with Mr Hockborn’s carer’s allowance of £286, he is actually receiving over £350 a month.
But Mr Hockborn, who previously worked as a bailiff and account manager for Bright House, says the allowance is spent on his mother, not himself.
He said: “I don’t mind paying the fine, it’s the fact they have paid too much of the money I’m left with.
“It clearly states in their paperwork they won’t send any money to the courts if I don’t have enough.
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“Clearly I didn’t have enough for them to send almost £100. It’s leaving me in a situation where I can’t pay my bills.
“They know that I’m looking after an 80-year-old dementia sufferer.”
Mr Hockborn says he has never heard from the courts over the fine, but believes it to relates to notification requirements from the sale of a car after being contacted by the DVLA in Swansea.
He is also paying off a Universal Credit advance payment at around £30 a month.
A DWP spokesperson said: “We are supporting Mr Hockborn with Universal Credit, advance payments and Carer’s Allowance totalling more than £350 per month, while he pays the fine directly imposed by the court.
“People who are unhappy with deductions taken from their benefit can appeal to an independent tribunal”.
The DWP added it has announced a reduction in the cap for deductions from 40% to 30% from the standard allowance to soften the burden of debt repayments.