A woman is considering legal action against the Benefits Agency after spending a year trying to reclaim some cash.

Julie Clarke claims a fortnightly cheque for £82 of income support was stolen with other letters from the letterbox of her home in Great Horton, Bradford, in April last year.

She claims the agency did not believe her and refused to issue another cheque, leaving her without any money for two weeks.

Since then she says she has been trying in vain to get a refund.

"I had two weeks without money to pay the rent, buy food or anything," she said.

"The Giro was cashed at a Post Office in Great Horton and I asked the Benefits Agency to send it for forensic tests because I didn't even see it, let along touch it. But they wouldn't - they just fobbed me off all the time and I want something done about it."

Fahmeeda Saeed, of Bradford solicitors Stachiw and Bashir, said she was waiting for the results of police forensic examination of the cheque.

"The Benefits Agency has told her they are not going to give her another Giro for the amount and they have not offered an explanation.

"I say they are under a duty to issue a further cheque to her."

A Benefits Agency spokesman said she was unable to discuss individual cases but she added: "If someone has lost a Giro or had it stolen they would be interviewed and details would be taken.

"Other issues would be discussed like whether the address was unsafe and other arrangements should be made to pick it up.

"If there was any doubt, further investigations would take place and if the Giro was subsequently cashed - especially at the regular Post Office - the person would be interviewed again.

"The customer could insist that the Giro is fingerprinted and the police would then be called in.

When it is proved the cheque does not have the person's fingerprints on it and we are satisfied, another cheque will be issued."

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