Littlehampton couple fears Christmas could be ruined after benefits are cut by mistake

A Littlehampton couple feared Christmas could be ruined for their children after their benefits were cut due to a Government error.

Shane Lainchbury and Zoe Waller, from St Catherine’s Road, Littlehampton, were shocked to find out their Universal Credit payment had gone from £711 to £590 in their latest installment on December 4.

As a result, they said they could only afford one present each for their daughters Madison, five, and McKenzie, three. Shane, 40, said: “It has messed our Christmas up. We are going to my mum’s on Christmas Day; that is the only thing we can look forward to.”

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The former warehouse worker said he has struggled with anxiety and depression for at least 15 years of his life, and has been out of work for more than eight years.

Shane Lainchbury, his partner Zoe and daughter Madison are unhappy about their Universal credit cut just before Christmas. Pic Steve Robards

Shane said this news had put a strain on his mental health: “I’m worrying about things I shouldn’t be.”

He admitted he had not looked for work during the pandemic and had been given a sick note by his doctor which lasts until January.

He said he did not know why the benefits had been cut, and asked the Department for Work and Pensions for a budgeting advance. But the couple were refused it until they got work contracts, he said.

Zoe, 34, said ‘it would mean everything’ to get more money so they could have a normal Christmas. She said: “It has been a lot of stress at the moment. I’m alright, I can handle it, but Shane’s a bit iffy.”

Zoe claimed her job coach had told her there were apprenticeships available, and cleaning jobs she could apply for – but she claimed she could not find them.

Following an investigation by the Gazette, the reason the money was cut was due to the Department for Work and Pensions incorrectly applying the benefits cap.

A spokesman for the department said: “We apologise for the error made on Mr Lainchbury’s account, which we have now rectified.”