Welfare chiefs say sorry after stopping King’s Lynn woman’s benefits in prison mix-up

Paige Bell, from King's Lynn, who had her benefits stopped after being confused with a person of a similar name. ANL-150613-103638009
Paige Bell, from King's Lynn, who had her benefits stopped after being confused with a person of a similar name. ANL-150613-103638009
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A pregnant woman had her benefits stopped after she was mistaken for someone else who is currently in prison on remand.

Officials have this morning apologised to 18-year-old Paige Bell, of Gaywood, after she discovered the error on Friday.

But Miss Bell, of Oak Circle, is angry at the way the issue has been handled.

She said: “I just couldn’t believe that something like that could happen.”

Miss Bell, who is currently 26 weeks pregnant, had been receiving £115 per fortnight in employment support allowance, which is paid to people who are unable to work either through illness or disability. Miss Bell has had depression.

However, she only became aware of a problem when the payment she had expected to be made on Friday did not materialise.

She said: “I went to my bank and there was nothing in there.”

When she sought an explanation, she claimed she was told that her case had been closed a week earlier as it was believed she was in custody.

She added: “They said ‘you’re on remand’. I was supposed to be in Nottingham prison.

“They go through your National Insurance number and date of birth. There can’t be two the same. They’ve seen the address.”

The mistake was finally accepted following discussions between benefits officials and prison staff, who confirmed that Miss Bell was not an inmate.

She said: “It was supposed to be a boy but with a similar name and date of birth.”

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said today: “Ms Bell’s benefits have been paid and we apologise for any inconvenience caused.

“The delay to her payment was caused by a technical error.”