I'm a mum-of-five and our family couldn't shower or eat properly for days after benefits mistake | The Sun

I'm a mum-of-five and our family couldn't shower or eat properly for days after benefits mistake | The Sun

June 7, 2022

A MUM-of-five said her family were left stranded when her benefits weren't paid due to a mistake – forcing them to go without food or showers for days.

Sarah Brown, 33, was expecting her Personal Independent Payment to be sent to her bank account last week, but was stuck when a systems error saw her payment recalled.

Sarah lives in Workington, Cumbria, with her partner Stephen and their five children, one of which is just eight months old.

The mum shared her story with Lancs Live to highlight the consequences that not receiving PIP payments can have on families like hers.

After not receiving the cash when it was expected on June 1, Ms Brown said the family were unable to top up their pay-as-you-go meter to turn on their gas and electricity – meaning they couldn't shower for days.

Sarah said that the situation meant she had to wrap-up her baby in clothes in their cot to keep them warm through the night, and the rest of the family had to go to bed fully clothed.

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The parents even had to go without meals at times to make sure their five children could eat.

Sarah said: "I'm on Personal Independence Payments and I get paid four weekly and the payment was due on the third. They told me I'd be paid on the first because of the bank holiday so I would get it early.

"I looked in my bank to see if it had definitely gone in and it hadn't. I phoned the DWP, I phoned four times that day and they all said different things."

The mum revealed the dire situation got even worse when the family wasn't even able to receive an emergency package from the local food bank as it was closed.

Sarah was eventually told the problem was caused by her payment being processed above what she is normally allocated, resulting in the cash being recalled.

The error can take up to five days to fix, leaving the family-of-seven stuck.

"They said there was nothing they can do about it until they sort the payment. So I said you're going to see me stuck with five children and an eight-month-old baby with no gas, no electricity. That was my shopping money and my gas," said the mum.

Sarah also appealed for help over Facebook, and said that asking for help made her embarrassed, as "it's not my error, it's their error. We were so stuck. All the food banks were shut. We hadn't had a bath or shower since Tuesday.

"We put money on the meter but that went into debt on the gas. We had no food, we had bread and butter. We were finding things in the cupboard like tins to try and make something.

"I felt like I was begging. To put an appeal out on Facebook was quite embarrassing. All that wasn't my fault and on day four we managed to get a shower this morning all of us," added the mum of five.

Ms Brown has decided to take the case to a tribunal.

A DWP spokesperson said: “Due to a change in her circumstances, Ms Brown’s PIP payment amount has recently changed. In order to prevent an overpayment Ms Brown’s latest PIP payment was recalled. We apologise for any inconvenience caused. Ms Brown has now been paid her PIP award in full and her monthly Universal Credit payment was unaffected.”

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