Dad on Universal Credit gets just £5 for Christmas after ‘missed appointments’

A DAD has claimed he was paid just £5 in Universal Credit before Christmas after missing Job Centre appointments because he was in prison.

Declan Sylvester, who was at Hull the Job Centre on Christmas Eve, said he was in prison at the time of the two appointments in questions and unaware he had missed them.

The 24-year-old from Bransholme told Hull Live that his benefit payment was cut to just £5 the week before Christmas as he was believed to have missed two Job Centre appointments, the Mirror reports.

Face-to-face Job Centre appointments restarted in April, having been suspended during last year's lockdown.

But Mr Sylvester said he was unable to attend his appointments because he had been in prison at the time.

He said: "I got out of prison recently, I was sentenced to 14 months but did seven and a half but I was recalled for 10 days.

"After I got out, I went to the bank to check how much money I had and saw I'd only been paid £5.

"I asked why and they said it's because I missed my appointments and someone had used my card fraudulently while I was inside too."

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Mr Sylvester said he had called the DWP to try and get the sanction lifted and get a new Job Centre appointment.

The dad has been on Universal Credit for three years, and has already seen his payments cut from £258 a month to £195 because of a fake firearm conviction.

He said he had been looking for work but is waiting to receive paperwork from the Job Centre.

He has been unemployed since his release from prison as his security guard licence was revoked because of the offence.

Mr Sylvester served time for the possession and threatening use of an air rifle.

He was given a suspended sentence in January last year after threatening teenagers with the weapon when he mistakenly believed they had stolen his bike.

He was also ordered to do 150 hours of unpaid community work but was jailed for 18 months after only completing 15 hours and pretending to have Covid, it is reported.

A judge branded him a "Wannabe Rambo" but he was also commended for his guilty plea.

The court heard that he also apologised to the teens after learning of his mistake, and his solicitor said he was a family man at heart.

The DWP said: "We do not have consent from the individual to comment on their case.

"We're providing extensive support to those on the lowest incomes, including putting an extra £1,000 per year into the pockets of working families on Universal Credit.

"Our £500million Household Support Fund is also helping the most vulnerable with essential costs this winter."

Mr Sylvester is not the only person struggling to make ends meet this Christmas period, after the Universal Credit uplift of £20 a week was stopped in October.

But in a victory for The Sun's Make Universal Credit Work campaign, half a million claimants will get an extra £1,000 a year after changes announced in the Budget.

We've also looked at all the extra support available to households through the new £500million support fund.

This includes in Derbyshire, where families can get up to £144 to put towards bills, food and living costs.

And those living in West Northampshire could get a £40 voucher to top up their pre-payment energy meter.

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