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Man who got himself off the dole could lose his home due to mislaid documents
A MAN who started his own pet shop business to escape the dole says he is facing homelessness because council officers have lost his benefits forms four times.
Mark Symonds, who has just started up Rainbow Dragons in Trinity Street, Worcester, is at his wits end, as he faces eviction by his landlord over three months of rent arrears.
He claims Worcestershire Hub shared service staff have lost his housing benefit form four times, meaning he cannot make a claim.
The Hub says he should send in a benefit form “as a matter of urgency”, and was sorry if he felt his claim had not been handled well.
The problems have arisen because Mr Symonds, of Chestnut Walk, Worcester, is on a Jobcentre-scheme called the New Enterprise Scheme (NEA) which helps people who want to get off benefits into self-employment.
The scheme allows people to keep claiming state benefit for the first few months while they get settled.
In mid-May he informed the housing benefits team of a change in circumstances, which he must do by law, but once notification is given benefits immediately stop.
He received a new application form by post on May 16, and took the form back to Orchard House, in Worcester – but dropped it off before the doors had opened for the day.
Now the form, and two subsequent applications, have disappeared.
“They told me they have no record of my application,” said the 32-year-old.
Finally, he got a friend to take the form – his fourth application – to Orchard House, where a receipt was issued, along with a request for proof from the DWP (Department for Work and Pensions) he was on the NEA scheme, and a self-employment form.
“I posted the self-employment form the next day, and forwarded to them an e-mail I had from the DWP saying I was on the NEA scheme,” he said.
However, he says the Revenue and Benefits team have no record of an application.
“My landlord says if the rent money is not in my account by July 20 [today], I had better not be in the house,” he said.
“Whatever happens now, I am basically homeless because it cannot be sorted before then.
“The benefits people tell me they have no application on file, and there’s nothing they can do.
“So basically, because of them I am out on the street, with a business to run.”
A Worcestershire Hub spokeswoman said they could not discuss individual cases but she said that Mr Symonds needed to provide original copies of his supporting documentation.
“We are sorry Mr Symonds feels his claim has not been dealt with,” she said.
“We suggest, as a matter of urgency, he visits his nearest customer service centre and brings with him original copies of the relevant forms he needs to accompany his application form and a customer service advisor will help him with this claim.”
The customer service centre, previously at Orchard House, has since moved to the Hive.