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Man in debt after Jobcentre Plus failed to tell him benefit rules

Mr A wanted to separate from his wife and move into a council property and he told Jobcentre Plus that this is what he planned to do. Jobcentre Plus failed to tell Mr A that that unless he sold his previous property, he would lose entitlement to income support when it was reviewed after 26 weeks.

Several months later when the mistake was discovered, Mr A's income support was stopped and he had to move back in with his wife because he could not rent the council property without his benefits and he was unable to force his wife to sell the marital home. In the process, Mr A incurred council tax arrears and suffered significant stress and inconvenience.

We upheld the complaint about Jobcentre Plus. Jobcentre Plus should have told Mr A that his benefit entitlement would be reviewed after 26 weeks, and warned him about the potential impact on his entitlement if he failed to sell his property.

Following our investigation, Jobcentre Plus paid Mr A more than £1,500. This was enough to repay his council tax arrears, but minus the first month's rent to which he had committed himself before he spoke to Jobcentre Plus. It paid Mr A an additional £500 in recognition of the significant stress and inconvenience he had suffered as a result of its failure.