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Ingrow woman may lose home as benefits denied
A 22-year-old woman who has lived in Keighley since she was nine says she has been denied income support because she comes from “abroad”.
Claudia Familio, who has a nine-month-old daughter, said the refusal had left her penniless and she fears she may have to give up her home.
The problem is that, even though she had been educated locally and has had several jobs in the Keighley area, she has an Italian passport.
“It’s ridiculous, I just don’t know what to do,” she said. “I know people who have come here a couple of months ago and they’re claiming for everything. I’ve been here longer than I’ve been in Italy.”
A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions said it was looking into the case.
Miss Familio, of Ingrow, showed the Keighley News a letter she received from Jobcentre Plus, dated August 7. It states: “I am writing to tell you that you are not entitled to Income Support from June 22, 2012. This is because you are a person from abroad.”
A later letter from Jobcentre Plus EU Decisions & Appeals states: “We have decided that you do not meet the requirements for the right to reside test and therefore, for benefit purposes only, you’re not considered to be habitually resident in the UK.”
Miss Familio was born in Naples, but has lived in Keighley for the last 12 years.
“I’ve always had an Italian passport,” she said. “It was cheaper at the time for my mum to renew it rather than get a British one.”
She left Holy Family Catholic School in 2006 after GCSEs. Since then she has trained for a hairdressing qualification at Keighley College and worked part-time at two hair salons, as well as at a store in the Airedale Shopping Centre and at a Keighley town centre cafe.
Miss Familio said the trouble began when she had her daughter and had to stop working to look after her. Because she knew she would not be able to work, she could not claim Job Seekers Allowance so was advised to claim Income Support instead.
Because she has now been refused this, it means she is not eligible for housing benefit either.
Miss Familio said she was no longer in a relationship with her daughter’s father, who is unable to help financially.
“Right now, all I’m getting is child benefit which is £80 a month,” she said. “My house rent is £475 a month and there are other bills on top of that. I’ve had to borrow money from my mum to pay the rent.
“My daughter is nine months old and she’s already living in her third house, which she’s just getting used to. I may have to give up the house which would be even worse for her than for me.”
Miss Familio said she had appealed against the decision to deny her Income Support, but understands the appeals process could take months to complete.