Benefits mix up leaves gay couple in the dark

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A gay couple were left with no utilities for two days because changes in the law caused them to lose a significant amount of their benefits.

Brian Strange and Chris Davis had to live without hot water and lighting when they couldn’t afford to top up their electricity meter after the Civil Partnership Act legislated that gay couples no longer receive separate benefits.

The change has meant that rather than them individually receiving £56.20 per week, they now have to live on a joint amount of £88.15.

Mr Strange, 43, had applied for a Job Seekers’ allowance to support him and his partner after he had lost his job when he was injured during a mugging and was unable to continue the manual work.

The Chippenham Job Centre told him he couldn’t be seen until March 16 due to staff shortages and so instead applied for a crisis loan, which he was turned away from by security guards because he was ten minutes late.

He told the Wiltshire Gazette and Herald, “Chris and I are furious this could happen. We were told that our benefits would be cut because we are now recognised as a couple under the Civil Partnerships Act. I don’t object to that at all but because it’s been sudden we don’t have any money.”

Mary Dowling of the Department for Work and Pensions said decisions to pay crisis loans were based on individual circumstances. She refused to comment on the use of security guards.