Bank error leaves £22k bill for disabled man

PUBLISHED: 12:00 25 July 2015

David Ham who has issues with North Somerset Council over his disabilt benefits.

David Ham who has issues with North Somerset Council over his disabilt benefits.

Archant

A disabled man has criticised the council after it sent him a £22,000 bill due to a bank error – which has left him having to take medication for stress.

David Ham is an amputee who needs 24-hour care and relies on a wheelchair after a motorbike accident in 2005.

He received compensation for his injuries, but that money was placed in a trust and looked after by financial advisors so David has no access to it.

A trust fund bank statement was incorrectly labelled to David instead of the trust by the bank so North Somerset Council billed David for £22,000 – asking him to repay the housing benefit he has been claiming.

The 33-year-old, who lives in Roman Road near Bleadon, said: “They ought to think about what they are going to do before they do it, they jumped to the wrong conclusion.

“They threw a £22,000 bill at me and put a lot of stress on me. I have had to take some more medication because of the stress.

“It took more than a month for it all to get sorted. They gave me the bill, we proved it within two weeks and then they still hadn’t got back to me a fortnight later.

“We have made sure everything is absolutely above board and done everything with financial advisors.

“The bank incorrectly labelled the letter to me, but the money doesn’t actually touch me at all.

“I am an amputee with spinal injuries, I am just trying to keep my life as relaxed as it can be.

“The more stressed I am, it is harder work for my carers because my muscle spasms get much worse.”

Most of the compensation money was used to create a house for David with suitable access and other adjustments he needs to stay there for rest of his life, as well as paying for carers.

But North Somerset Council says it has a duty to investigate discrepancies ‘because it is public money’.

A council spokesman said: “We look into cases where we get information about someone’s financial circumstances when they are claiming benefits. In this case we did carry out financial checks and having completed them we have restored the benefits payments.

“When we investigate cases like this it is not our intention to cause unnecessary distress – but we have a duty to investigate a change in circumstances because it is public money.”

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