Peterborough mum’s disgust over court costs after benefits battle with city council

Catherine Reidy
Catherine Reidy
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A mum of three who battled for six months to receive housing benefits says she feels disgusted after being lumbered with court costs of £325.

Catherine Reidy of Eye has to pay costs after Cross Keys Homes took her to court over rent arrears even though the case was dismissed after she received £1,650 of backdated payments from Peterborough City Council.

The 36-year-old’s dispute with the council began in February, she said, when she returned to work. She claims she sent invoices showing she spent £223 a week on childcare for her son Archer (7) and twin daughters Georgia and Nevaeh (3) but that the council calculated it at £61 which meant she was not entitled to receive housing benefits.

Ms Reidy said she only received her backdated payments in August after putting in a complaint to the council but by then had been forced to leave her job as a receptionist at AB Agri as she was earning less than she paid in childcare.

She said: “I’m disgusted, furious and upset. I’ve gone through so many emotions I’ve become numb to it.”

While she was fighting the council a date was set up in county court due to her four-figure arrears with Cross Keys, Peterborough’s largest housing association.

Ms Reidy said she had felt like “an absolute failure” at the prospect of losing her home.

The case was then dismissed as Ms Reidy had by then received her backdated payments, but she was still ordered to pay the court costs.

A spokeswoman from Cross Keys said the law does not allow anyone to take court action when there are pending housing benefit claims, but that Ms Reidy provided no evidence of her claim.

She added: “Despite many warnings of court action we were left with no option.

“It was the judge’s decision for Ms Reidy to pay the court costs not Cross Keys Homes.”

A council spokeswoman said its benefits team did not receive all relevant information from Ms Reidy until August 4, with an arrears payment then made to Cross Keys on August 7.