I’ve paid all my taxes in Britain but after 2 years abroad I’m not eligible for Universal Credit lifeline

Former train manager Matthew Stockall, 38, returned from Benidorm to the UK last month after the breakdown of his relationship and struggled to find work, so applied for help on the new welfare system.

He was shocked to find out from the DWP that because he'd not been living in the country, then he wasn't able to access help.

Matthew was born and bred in Manchester but moved to Benidorm two years ago to be with his former partner.

But after returning back to the country and having to move in with his mum he's been unable to find work and has had to rely on friends and family for food.

He said he was living off just £20 a week after leaving his bar job in Spain: "The DWP told me they didn’t recognise me a resident of the country as I had no permanent residence or offer of employment."

"I received an email saying I had failed the Habitual Residency Test.

"I explained to Universal Credit that I had paid tax for the entirety of my life before moving, to which they replied by saying that a lot of other people in the same position had paid more than me in their lifetime."

The news comes after The Sun launched our Make Universal Credit Work campaign to help thousands who are struggling with the system.

Today ex-DWP boss Iain Duncan Smith urged ministers to listen to our campaign and acknowlege the problems with the current system.

Writing for The Sun, he said: "For some people, particularly those with difficult and chaotic lives, this change, though important and right, has been hard to navigate."

The Sun wants to Make Universal Credit Work

One million people are already receiving it and by the time the system is fully rolled out in 2023, nearly 7 million will be on it.

But there are big problems with the flagship new system – it takes 5 weeks to get the first payment and it could leave some families worse off by thousands of pounds a year.

And while working families can claim back up to 85 per cent of their childcare costs, they must find the money to pay for childcare upfront – we’ve heard of families waiting up to 6 months for the money.

Working parents across the country told us they’ve been unable to take on more hours – or have even turned down better paid jobs or more hours because of the amount they get their benefits cut.

It’s time to Make Universal Credit work. We want the government to:

Together, these changes will help Make Universal Credit Work.

Join our Universal Credit Facebook group or email [email protected] to share your story. 

Are you on Universal Credit? Tell us your story! Email: [email protected] and join our Universal Credit Facebook group.

Matthew went on: "I have paid National Insurance and tax for almost 20 years before moving, and when I needed help my country didn’t listen.

"Since returning, I’ve had no help and relied on what my auntie and sister could offer me.

"I’ve had to sofa hop between their homes, as well as relying on them to feed me."

He's now living in Northwich, Cheshire, which he says has limited job opportunities as he can't drive.

"If I didn’t have the support of my family, I would have been on the streets and deemed unfit to contribute to the country, or to any company when looking for work."

He says he thought the reason he was rejected was because they thought he would return to Spain.

After an intervention from Mike's MP, Mike Amesbury, he's now getting help from Universal Credit.

A spokesman from DWP said: "We have an obligation to ensure we support people who are fully resident in the UK to avoid abuse of the welfare system.

"The Habitual Residence Test ensures that only people intending to remain within the UK for the foreseeable future can claim welfare support.

"This includes returning UK nationals, and we will always speak to claimants and examine evidence for this."

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