I was directed here from another forum, after posting there for people's opinions.
I think this is posted in the wrong place - it's my first time here, and I don't know where to post it. Sorry.
I don't know what to do, but I want to take the matter further, and was thinking of filing a small claims court case. I don't know if it's wise or not, but I don't know how a small claims court work - and what happens if I lose?
Background (LONG - SORRY!):
I received a letter 19th Dec 2011, dated 13th December 2011, stating that from the 10th December 2011, the DWP were deducting money on a weekly basis from me, for a Social Fund debt. I had no idea what this so-called “Social Fund” was, and called up for advice. I was told to call another number. Calling these numbers cost me money as they are all 0845 numbers, however, I had no option but to keep calling and paying out on call costs.
I spoke to a lady, who said that I had taken a Crisis Loan (the old name for the Social Fund) out on 1st July 2004. I informed her that this was not the case, but she was insistent. She said it was for food and rent bills. I told her again, this was not the case - as I don't get money for rent, as I live with my parents as their carer, in their private house. I also asked her that, if it was the case, then why this alleged loan was not talked about before? It is now the very end of 2011. Most legal situations say there is a limit of 6years to reclaim... this was 6yrs and 7 and half months later! She informed me abruptly that DWP company can re-claim the loan, once a new claim for Jobseekers Allowance is submitted. However, this too, does not make sense in any way.
I had claimed a few times since 2004, in between various employments, and there has never been a mention of any Crisis Loan that I allegedly had taken out, and not repaid, which would have led me to address the matter sooner.
I was told to send letters in (5 times in total, on Special Delivery at their instruction! - and have sent several emails too) to an office, then to be told on chasing that they had got the letters, and were looking into it, but in the next call, was told they had no letters, and could I resend. And then resend again, to a different address. All calls were made to their chargeable 0845 number. Eventually it was passed to the Fraud Team, who again were supposed to call back, but didn't, but when they did after another chase, I was told that the debt was on hold until they had investigated, and not to worry. I told them that the money was being taken from me already and had pulled me into the overdraft limit, and now I was getting bank fees charges because of it. They said they would freeze that - but they didn't, and went on to take the full amount in the end, leaving me with high bank charges, and the need to take a loan to pay them off, and then paying interest to pay off the loan.
After much complaining it finally was sent to the Recoveries Team, who said they are investigating but I never heard back. Finally after several calls, and one telling me it can take months, and to wait for a callback - I got a landline number for a Supervisor - (lets call him Bob for ease - not his real name!) and have been chasing him since June 2013, and then from end August, Bob's Supervisor too.
I got a call back 4 weeks ago (after another chase), to say in the next day or 2 Bob would send me copies of the original documents, for me to look over immediately. I heard nothing more.
Finally today - after yet more chases, and through Bob's Supervisor, Bob calls back...remember he said he'd send me copies? He now says that they don't have the original documents (no date on when he allegedly got that confirmation either), as they were destroyed, and therefore on the "Balance of probability" they would uphold the debt - "especially as the debt had been recovered.".
I told him again that the debt wasn't mine - it was a fraud case. He said that there was no point of Appeal on this. I asked him who made the decision, he said 'the office', it was a local decision - and that there was nothing obviously fraudulent about the case. I quoted ALL the reasons why it was fraudulent, and he began to stutter. I asked again for the name of the head of the Department, who had made the Decision - and he was very hesitant - so I asked again who made the Decision, and he eventually said, he did. I asked how he'd reached that decision, as the had that the paperwork was destroyed after 3 years in line with their policies? He said he made it in line with their policies. He couldn't tell me which Policies. I asked for a full breakdown, with copies of the Policies he used to come to a decision, to be sent to me by the end of the week.
I pointed out that, that was not my fault the paperwork had been destroyed, and that it had taken so long to come to this stage. That I was disabled with mobility issues, and the post office the Giro had been cashed at, was a few miles away, that I couldn't have got to, and I had sent in medical evidence to prove it on several occasions - that had cost me money to obtain too. I asked about decision reversal, but Bob said that they don't reverse decisions. He said I could lodge an official complaint - in light of new evidence (he claims he didn't know about the Post Office, or my disability - all of which has been noted in letters I've sent, and calls I've made) - and that they would look at the case and get back to me!
I have paid out so much on phone calls, and postage, and bank charges, that I want to pursue this further - even if I only get the original so called debt back. I wondered whether it would be worth filing a small claims court claim? - and try and recover some of this. I have no money currently as I am on a 6 month DWP sanction (awaiting appeal), after being fired from my last job, and I don't know about court costs and such, so I want to know the Pros and Cons of filing a case against the DWP.
Sorry for the long post - I have Aspergers, and the complete inability to summerise.