A DISTRAUGHT couple have lost their home after a decade of devastating benefits deductions.

Malcolm Tower, 61, was forced to claim benefits after suffering a double brain aneurysm and a stroke in 2009 left him unable to walk and with short term memory loss.

But ever since then, the Department of Work and Pensions have been deducting variable amounts from what he receives.

Each time Mr Tower or his devoted wife, Carol, challenge the costs they are told there is a record of him being overpaid £18,000 – even though they insist they have always declared every penny.

The couple believe it relates to a court case in the 1990s when Mr Tower suffered horrific injuries to his foot and spent two years in hospital.

He was claiming benefits and had a private pension after he left the Merchant Navy which he always declared.

However, he faced a trial at Chelmsford Crown Court after being accused of benefit fraud and was cleared.

Shortly afterwards, Mr Tower stopped collecting benefits and returned to work when he and his wife set up a cleaning company and heard nothing from the DWP until he fell ill again.

He is now claiming employment support allowance and disability allowance but has deductions ranging from £60 to £11 per week.

The constant penalties have meant their beloved three-bedroom house has now been repossessed and they were forced to move into council accommodation just one street away.

They then faced a two-year wait for adaptations to be made so it was suitable for disabled Mr Tower.

Mrs Tower, of Stourview Close, Mistley, said: “It is so hard. I see my old house everyday – one of my children was born in that house and to see it every day with other people living in it is heart-breaking.

“It is making us both ill. The worst thing about it is I think we are the most honest people we know. We do not hide anything from anyone.

“During the trial I had to go to the court with clothes and a toothbrush in case he went to prison.”

A DWP spokesperson insisted Mr Towers had been overpaid in the past despite being cleared at court.

He said: “Mr Towers was overpaid income support and as a result a small reduction has been made to his monthly payments to repay this.

“Anyone struggling to manage deductions should contact our debt management team for support.”