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Council denies ‘better off on benefits’ advice
12:30pm Thursday 26th September 2013 in News
A COUNCIL accused of telling a single working mum she was better off on benefits has denied ever doing so.
Chelsea Press made national headlines when she told the Echo Basildon Council officers said she’d get more money claiming jobseeker’s allowance, rather than working.
The comments prompted a political row when Labour’s deputy leader, Harriet Harman, visited Chelsea, 23, to criticise the Government for failing to support working mums.
However, after investigating the comments for a month, Basildon Council says its staff did not tell Chelsea she was better off on benefits.
Phil Turner, deputy leader of the council, said: “Having thoroughly investigated the allegation we can now categorically confirm this did not happen.
“We have spoken to the council staff who dealt with Miss Press and we are satisfied she was not given this advice.
“Basildon Council’s policy is to support local people who need our help in every way it can. This includes doing everything we can to help them access work opportunities and encouraging them to take work when it is available.
“We are very clear that those who can work and have the opportunity to work should do so. This council is determined to create opportunity for local people and that means it is happy to give people a hand up, but not a hand out.”
Chelsea is mother to Lacey, two, and loses £280 a month by sticking to her part-time job as a carer. She pays half her income straight back to the council in rent and council tax, with the rest going on bills, food and childcare.
It means she is constantly living hand to mouth.
Chelsea said: “They are bound to deny that’s what officers said, but I know what they told me.
“I have had messages from people I don’t know from all over the country saying they have been told the same thing.
“When you are on benefits you are pushed to get a job and when you get one you are told you are better on benefits. Then people take the easy option.
“I am not going to give up my job because I am better off on benefits.I want to set a good example for my daughter.
“It would be good to meet Phil Turner face to face so he can understand what my issues are.”
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