Famous and eligible

Despite the disclaimer at the bottom of my column, my desk is
festooned with letters seeking advice from social services staff
and the public. Here are a few that I have received.

Q. I was accused of theft from my previous employer, but
was found to be innocent. In the meantime, I have been doing some
media work. Can I get jobseekers’ allowance? Paul B from

A. Yes. However, after six months, you will have to claim
income-based jobseekers’ allowance and your savings will be taken
into account. This shouldn’t include the value of your personal
possessions but it will cover the nominal £300,000 you’ve had
for the media work.

Q. I am a 16-year-old schoolgirl. Can I be estranged from
my mother and still claim benefit? Charlotte C, Wales.

A. Yes, although you might have trouble convincing the DWP that a)
you are really estranged, b) that you aren’t living with your
18-year-old boyfriend, and c) that you are not already rich enough
to afford to support yourself anyway.

Q. I’m feeling listless, and not to put too fine a point on
it, a little depressed. At work, I am waiting for the person above
me to “move on” so that I can have her job. At home, no one
respects me, especially my father. I am a lone parent and one of my
children has already been in trouble over drugs and drink. Can I
get disability living allowance? Charles W, Windsor.

A. Possibly. As DLA is not based on income or national insurance,
it doesn’t matter that you’ve never done a proper day’s work in
your life. Getting DLA on mental health grounds can be tricky
though. Do you know someone who could put in a good word for

Q. I need support, care and attention. Can I get DLA? Iain
D-S, Westminster

A. Yes, particularly as your situation is clearly terminal. You
probably won’t even have to wait three months.

Q. I’m entirely sure that I am going to keep my job and I
have children to support. Will the child support agency be any use
to me? Ulrika, London

A. The child support agency could indeed be of use to you, and you
will have to use them if you claim income support. Simply fill in
the form saying who the fathers of the children are (use additional
sheets if required).

Q. I am a Swedish national who has been working in England
for almost two years. If I decide to leave my job, will I still be
able to claim benefits? Sven, Wembley.

A. You should not be caught by the habitual residence test, as you
have clearly settled in the UK.

Q. I have been made redundant and intend to go freelance as
a chilled-out entertainer and management consultant. Will my
redundancy pay affect my jobseekers’ allowance? David B,

A. If it is a redundancy, then you will not be treated as having
contributed to your unemployment. However, if you were sacked for
being incompetent, you could be facing a ban from JSA of up to 26
weeks. If your redundancy pay brings your savings to more than
£8,000, you won’t get income-based JSA after the contributory
JSA ends.

Gary Vaux is head of money advice, Hertfordshire Council.
He is unable to answer queries by post or telephone. If you have a
question to be answered please write to him c/o Community

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