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Single mum’s benefits stopped because HMRC believe she is in a relationship with a shop


A single mother from Glasgow has had her benefits suspended as HMRC believes her circumstances have changed and she is now in a relationship.

Forty-year-old Debbie Balandis received a letter from the tax office saying her £140 per week tax credits were being stopped as she had a new man in her life who had been paying money into her bank account.

Martin McColl

However, the man in question turned out to be a Martin McColl, the trading name of newsagent chain RS McColl, where Debbie’s local post office is based. The name appeared on Debbie’s bank statements as she withdraws her money at the local branch. Debbie explained the mix up and expected that her benefits would be reinstated. Instead she was disappointed to be told she would have to prove that Martin McColl is not her live-in partner.


Debbie told The Daily Record: “I couldn’t believe it when I got the letter to say my payments were being stopped so I called them up to see what the mix-up had been. I expected it to be sorted over the phone but instead I was told they knew I had a new partner. Shocked, I asked them who that was – because I’ve not been in a relationship for 10 years.

“The call handler said they had looked through my benefit payments and asked me who Mr McColl was? At first I was surprised – I’d never heard of anyone with that name – but suddenly I realised it was the name of the shop where I was withdrawing my money.”HMRC2

Benefits stopped

The mum-of-two continued: “I begged HMRC not to leave me without a penny all because of a fictitious boyfriend. But they didn’t believe me and have now stopped my benefits for supposedly having an affair with the post office.”

Payments suspended

Debbie says she had to spend £19 on a phone call to HMRC to try and sort out the confusion, money that she can ill afford. “I can’t believe the way they treated me, she said. “They made the mistake but I’m the one left to suffer.”

A spokesman for HMRC said: “HMRC does not comment on identifiable taxpayers. When we have reason to believe someone’s circumstances may have changed, we write to them and allow 30 days for a reply. If we don’t hear anything, payments are suspended. Payments will be reinstated as soon as people have provided us with information requested and it has been reviewed.”



About Maria Brett

About Maria Brett

Maria is a freelance writer with over 10 years' experience producing content for a variety of publications and websites. When not working or looking after her two gorgeous sons, she can usually be found playing flugelhorn in a brass band, helping out at her local hospital radio station, shouting at the television while watching Formula 1, at the cinema or plonked on the couch with a cold glass of wine.

Website: Maria Brett

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