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Deputy Bailiff to rule on claim stopping benefit was wrong

News | Published:

A FORMER States employee has launched a legal challenge against a Social Security decision not to pay her 10 weeks of benefit after she was dismissed.

(Picture by Steve Sarre, 21709962)

Susan Cotterill, who has settled an unfair dismissal case out of court for £10,500, claimed the administrator of supplementary benefit and a social insurance tribunal panel were wrong to deny her the 10 weeks of benefit.

She said they should have waited to make their decision until after an employment tribunal had heard her case.

Mrs Cotterill worked for Health & Social Care but was sacked in December 2016 on the grounds of misconduct.

It had been argued that she had falsified her application form after being unable to provide written proof of qualifications for a role in the community drug and alcohol team.

Following her dismissal, Social Security considered her application for unemployment benefit, but, after checking the grounds for her sacking, the administrator imposed the 10-week sanction. The social insurance panel agreed with this decision.

Addressing Deputy Bailiff Richard McMahon, Ms Cotterill said she received just £680 in supplementary benefit for the 10 weeks. Her rent alone was £206 a week during that period.

Her landlord was chasing her for unpaid rent and she felt it was for Social Security to pay it.

She added that she had started Petty Debt Court proceedings against Social Security to recoup £3,112-worth of unpaid benefit.

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‘That is the difference between what I was paid and what I wasn’t,’ she said.

The sanction, Ms Cotterill said, was made on false information obtained from the wrong person at her former employer. She had reported that matter to the data protection office.

The calculations for her income were insufficient and she also claimed that the social insurance tribunal panel had not listened to her submissions. She added that both the Social Security and panel decisions should have taken place after the employment tribunal.

Advocate Robin Guest, representing Social Security and the panel, said it was reasonable for the administrator to take the view that the dismissal had occurred because of misconduct.

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The administrator had written to the employer and someone with appropriate authority had replied.

He added that it was not inappropriate for the administrator and the panel to sit before the outcome of the employment tribunal hearing.

Ms Cotterill’s settlement with Health & Social Care came after a number of hearings.

The employment tribunal had thrown out her claim for unfair dismissal. However, she appealed to the Royal Court against this decision.

The appeal was upheld and the case was due to go back before the tribunal for another hearing, but she reached a settlement before that took place.

In court, Ms Cotterill said the States would not have settled and paid her £10,500 if they did not now think she had been unfairly dismissed.

Mr McMahon reserved his judgment and will produce a written one.

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