Dad on Universal Credit given £5 to survive Christmas due to ‘missed appointments’

Declan Sylvester has also been jobless since his release from prison, but his security guard licence was revoked because he served time for possessing an air rifle

Declan Sylvester was among those at the Job Centre on Christmas Eve
Declan Sylvester was among those at the Job Centre on Christmas Eve

A man claims he only received £5 in Universal Credit the week before Christmas after he was sanctioned for missing two Job Centre appointments.

Declan Sylvester, 24, wasn’t aware he’d missed the appointments as he was serving time in prison for the possession and threatening use of an air rifle.

He has been jobless since his release, as his security guard licence was revoked because of the offence.

Mr Sylvester, from Bransholme, East Yorkshire, was one of several people attending the Job Centre in Hull, on Christmas Eve, Hull Live reports.

He told the paper: “I got out of prison recently, I was sentenced to 14 months but did seven and a half but I was recalled for 10 days.

“After I got out I went to the bank to check how much money I had before Christmas and saw I’d only been paid £5.

Declan Sylvester



“I asked why and they said it’s because I missed my appointments and someone used my card fraudulently while I was inside too.

“I’ve been ringing them constantly for the last three days to see if I can get an appointment to get my sanction lifted.

“My payments had already been cut from £258 a month to £195 because I got done for the fake firearm.

“I’ve been looking for work but I’m still waiting for the Job Centre to get me some of the paperwork I need.

“I’ve been on Universal Credit for three years now, it’s s***. On top of everything we had the £20 uplift taken off us as well.”

Mr Sylvester was given a suspended prison sentence in January last year after threatening teenagers with an air rifle after mistakenly believing they stole his bike.

He was also ordered to do 150 hours of unpaid community work but was jailed for 18 months after only completing 15 and pretending to have coronavirus.

Declan Sylvester was given a suspended prison sentence in January last year



Judge Paul Watson dubbed him a “Wannabe Rambo” for the offence, but gave him credit for his guilty plea.

The court also heard he apologised to the teenagers after learning they had not stolen his bike and his solicitor said he was a family man at heart.

Also attending a Job Centre appointment on Christmas Eve was Mark Rojahn, 46, from Greatfield, who said the meeting had left him little time to drop his children’s presents off.

He said: “They could have picked a better day to do the appointments, I don’t see why it had to be on Christmas Eve.

“I’ve got to go to my ex’s to see my kids and I’ve got a dole appointment after this too.

“It’s a bit much to have to come here on Christmas Eve, couldn’t they wait?

“New Years Day would have been fine even, it’s just bad timing for me today and I’m feeling unwell.

“I’m not one to go on about things though, I just try and do what I’m told.

“I’m not in work at the moment, I’d do any job right now, clean up, making someone’s cup of tea, it doesn’t matter.

“I left school when I was 16, I’ve had one or two jobs but I’ve just never been able to get into one that’s lasted.

“There wasn’t a job for me to go into when I left school.

“I’ve been on course after course while on Universal Credit, I even have a forklift truck driver’s licence now but that hasn’t got me a job either.”

A DWP spokesperson said: “We do not have consent from the individual to comment on their case.

“We’re providing extensive support to those on the lowest incomes, including putting an extra £1,000 more per year into the pockets of working families on Universal Credit.

“Our £500m Household Support Fund is also helping the most vulnerable with essential costs this winter.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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