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Echo helps Jon in battle for benefits
9:00am Friday 17th January 2014 in Southend
A JOBSEEKER born and bred in Basildon has been helped by the Echo after he was left in a benefits limbo by failing a residency test.
Jon Wright, 30, returned home in July after spending five years travelling Europe.
After failing to find work, he sought help from JobCentre Plus, in The Gore, Basildon.
Staff said he had to take the Government’s habitual residency test as he had returned to the UK after time abroad.
But the Department for Work and Pensions told Mr Wright he had failed the test and was ineligible for benefits.
Decision makers assess several factors, including English language skills, the likelihood of finding work, links to Britain and intention to stay in the country.
Mr Wright has been relying on friends and family for help and living with his pensioner grandparents, in Holst Avenue, Laindon.
He said: “I never really planned to go travelling, but my mum and dad moved abroad and when I went to visit them, I decided I wanted to see more countries.
“I was born inBasildon Hospital and as soon as I turned 16, I worked right up until I left the country. I had a job with the gas board, so I was on good money and able to take a lot of money with me when I went travelling.
“My boss left my job open for me, but when I came back there just wasn’t enough work for me anymore.
“The country has changed a lot in the past five years and I never expected any of this to happen.”
After being contacted by the Echo, the Department for Work and Pensions made a dramatic U-turn on its decision.
A spokesman said: “We’ve spoken with Mr Wright and he’s given us fresh information in support of his claim.
“As a result, we are now satisfied that he is eligible for benefits.”