Peterborough army veteran, suffering from PTSD, to lose home after Universal Credit benefits change

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A Peterborough couple claim they will soon lose their home after being moved on to Universal Credit, the controversial new benefits system.

Amanda Plowman and her army veteran husband Bryan said they are receiving nearly £500 less a month after being switched across to UC in October, which has seen them quickly build up more than £900 in rent arrears.

The couple’s landlords Accent Nene are now seeking possession of their home in Hampton with a court date scheduled for February.

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Mr Plowman, who has PTSD from his time in army, currently works as a school chef, while Mrs Plowman has been signed off work because of her mental health.

Bryan and Amanda Plowman have lost money with the change to Universal Credit EMN-181221-164434009Bryan and Amanda Plowman have lost money with the change to Universal Credit EMN-181221-164434009
Bryan and Amanda Plowman have lost money with the change to Universal Credit EMN-181221-164434009

If the couple are evicted they will become homeless and will have to be put into temporary accommodation, at a cost of around £300 a week for the city council.

Mrs Plowman said desperation had led her to applying for work even though she is medically not fit for employment. “My husband said it will literally destroy me, but what choice do I have?”

UC brings together six different benefits into a single monthly payment, and by 2022 it is expected to affect 21,500 households across Peterborough. Citizens Advice in Peterborough recently revealed that families in the city have had their finances “left in tatters” by being switched onto UC.

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The Plowmans were moved over to the new benefits system in October, they said.

Before then they were receiving £1,685 a month - that was Bryan’s salary, working tax credits, housing benefit and Personal Independence Payment (for people with a long-term health condition).

They say they now receive £1,202 a month - £483 less.

This appears to be largely due to the fact that, according to Mrs Plowman, under UC for every £1 her husband earns, their benefits are reduced by 63p.

Mrs Plowman said the couple have cut back on everything they can to pay their rent, adding: “My husband served in the army - he has never been out of work. I spoke to my housing officer and she said there are so many other people in the same position as us.”

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MP Shailesh Vara said: “We are working on this case with Mr and Mrs Plowman. As well as contacting the Department for Work and Pensions we are also in touch with Peterborough City Council with a view to resolving this matter.”

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesperson said: “Universal Credit is a force for good and it’s working for the vast majority of people.

“Universal Credit reduces gradually as people’s income increases, which means they’re always better off in work.”