Taxi driver wrongly advised to apply for Universal Credit repaid £11,000

The Taxi Driver was made £54 a week worse off when his Universal Credit claim was rejected. Credit: UTV

The Department of Communities has been forced to pay a man more than £11,000 in compensation after he was wrongly told to apply for Universal Credit.

The taxi driver lost £11,412.93 in Working Tax Credit benefits after being directed to make a Universal Credit claim.

It came following a car accident that left him unable to work.

However, the department did not tell him that by doing so he would lose his Working Tax Credit, even if his application was unsuccessful.

The taxi driver was then subsequently made £54-a-week worse off when his claim was rejected.

An investigation by the Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman said the Department of Communities did not follow its own guidance by referring the man to a number of expert services. 

The Ombudsman also requested recordings of the phone-calls between the taxi driver and the department, only to find they had been destroyed.

The investigation recommended the department issue the man with an apology and repay him the total amount of Working Tax Credit he had lost, which totalled £11,412.93. 

Ombudsman Margaret Kelly welcomed the steps taken by the Department to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future.

"The complainant in this case suffered a huge amount of stress and financial hardship through no fault of his own," she said.

"I am pleased that following my investigation the department have acknowledged he was treated unfairly, and put in place a number of measures to reduce the risk of other people going through the same experience."

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