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  1. This is another recent decision from the Local Government Ombudsman. This particular case addresses the common subject of single parents and whether or not they may be considered 'vulnerable' for the purposes of bailiff enforcement. There have been a couple of Ombudsman's decisions regarding 'vulnerability' and as in this particular case, the LGO confirm that it is for the debtor to provide evidence as to how their 'vulnerability' affects their ability to pay or deal with the debt. LGO Decision: North Hertfordshire District Council Miss X complains the Council has used bailiffs to try and collect a disputed council tax debt, even though she is vulnerable. The Ombudsman will not investigate the complaint as she has not seen any evidence of fault in the Council’s actions. The complaint 1 The complainant, who I shall call Miss X, complains via her MP that the Council has used bailiffs to try and recover a disputed council tax debt, despite her telling the bailiffs she is a vulnerable person. Back to top How I considered this complaint 4 I have considered Miss X’s complaint to us, the information her MP sent and the Council’s to Miss X’s complaint to it. Miss X has had the opportunity to comment, via her MP, on an earlier version of my final view. What I found 5 In 2010 the Magistrates’ Court granted the Council a liability order for a council tax debt it said Miss X owed. The Council passed the debt to its bailiffs in the same year. 6 Miss X disputed the debt, saying she should have received council tax benefit. The Council said she had made claim for backdated council tax benefit, but this was refused as it was outside the time limit for backdating benefit. 7 I note the points above as background, but I am not looking at why Miss X owes the debt as any complaint about her liability is be late, and the Ombudsman has previously considered a complaint about Miss X’s benefits. 8 In spring Miss X sent the bailiffs a ‘‘cease and desist’ notice saying as a single parent with a seven year old daughter she was a vulnerable person and the bailiffs should not be taking action to recover the debt. 9 The bailiffs wrote to Miss X asking for further information so they could assess her situation and decide how it affected her ability to pay. As Miss X did not send the information the bailiffs visited her twice later in the year. Miss X then complained to the Council about this. 10 In 2014 the Government issued National Guidance for Enforcement Agents. Paragraph 77 says - “Some groups who might be vulnerable are listed below. However, this list is not exhaustive. Care should be taken to assess each situation on a case by case basis.” 11 One of the groups listed who might be vulnerable are single parent families. 12 The Guidance is clear that if a debtor falls into the list the bailiffs must assess the individual case to see if they should take extra care in recovering the debt. Just because a debtor is a single parent does not, of itself, mean they are vulnerable. 13 The bailiff’s asked Miss X for more details of why she was vulnerable; she did not provide any information. So I cannot say the bailiffs were wrong to continue their recovery action. 14 I will not investigate Miss X’s complaint about the Council using bailiffs to recover a debt from a vulnerable person. Miss X did not send any other information to support her claim and the Council and bailiffs were not at fault to continue recovery action. http://www.lgo.org.uk/decisions/benefits-and-tax/other/16-010-888
  2. Hello My mum died three weeks ago and left some debt that my father has no knowledge of , one was a loan and has a balance of £2000 and the other is a debt of £300 . The loan was to a well known loan company and the debt is being sought by a DCA Can anyone advise me on my next step ? My father is 84 and is nearly housebound and is not capable of handling this situation Thank you
  3. Hi I'm not sure if anyone would know this but just looking for a little advice. My mother lives with me, I am her carer. She receives DLA - High rate mobility - Middle rate care. She suffers with Vascular Dementia. At 78, is it possible to get some sort of reassessment for an award of high rate care? She needs care at night, and someone to keep an eye on her as she is starting to stay awake at night and attempting to keep me awake 24 hours a day. Any increase in benefit will go towards this care. I'm not sure if at her age this can be reassessed, and not sure about the fact that it is now PIP so don't know how it works. Many thanks.
  4. Hello. I am currently getting income based JSA for about 1 year now. I stay with my mum, But all of a sudden my mum is saying i need to pay £27 towards to rent as the council will only pay £109. So why now do i need to pay. I have a brother who gets ESA, and my mum gets income support. What are causing the housing benefit deduction, My brother only started claiming ESA this year in march, And all of a sudden the housing benefit is cut. So could someone help me because i am getting the impression the cut is because of me but i have been getting jsa for around a year and my mum has been getting full housing benefit since untill now.
  5. Hi all, My son is disabled and gets higher rate care and mobility DLA. It is in my husband's name - i.e. all correspondence goes to him. He was claiming carers allowance but we have recently separated. Carers allowance has been stopped. Can I claim carer's allowance for my son even though the DLA is claimed by my husband? The DLA money goes into my account to use as I see fit for our son.
  6. Hi, I`m not sure if this is the right forum to be asking this but dont know where else to look. I have a parent (My mum) who is disabled with multiple sclerosis. since 2010 she has been in a care home as my Dad tool ill at this time and he was her main carer. He passed away in late 2010. My dad was her appointee and dealt with her benefits and when he passed this was transfered to me. He also had left a pension which should of paid my mum a lump sum of money and a widows pension on a monthly basis. I have tried to claim this on my mothers behalf but they refused blank saying I need to be her power of Attorney. I have no idea how to go about getting this as my mum did not appoint anyone when she was fit and able. I live in N. Ireland, (I`m not sure if its a different process for different parts of the UK?) Another question I have is if there is even any point in claiming the pension for her. Her care is trust funded and I am unsure if it will go straight to the trust to fund her care or wether she is allowed to keep a certain amount? I`ve read a few things that she may be able to keep £16,000 (which the lump sum for my fathers death is below). Also she had her own pension, it wasn`t for a great amount as she took the MS at a young age (early 30`s).. a letter came recently saying that her pot value was (£6000). I have read that in exceptional circumstances (IE permenant disablement) that it may be possible to take it as a lump sum. She is 54 now. I`m just not sure what to do, My mum has no savings and Ive seen her go down hill rapidly with the MS recently and I fear the worst should something happen.It would be a struggle atm for me to cover funeral expensis. Ideally I would like to get her this money and put it in an account should the worst happen someday. Lastly, is it possble for me to open one of those over 50`s funeral plans on my mums behalf, I have seen a few advertised and for a few pound a month they cover funeral costs. Sorry if my post sound morbid but recently seeing my mother deterioriate I have been thinking I need to plan for the worst Jack
  7. My daughter's fourteen year relationship ended in January when her partner left her and the two children. They agreed that, rather than pay maintenence, he would pay the mortgage and the fuel bills for the time being. Since then he has been living with his parents. She applied for and received Single Parent Working Tax Credit. She says that there is nowhere on the application form to declare the financial arrangement, but she did bring it up in one of the conversations, and was told that it made no difference. She also applied for and received council tax single occupancy discount. The bills remained in his name and they came to her home where he collected them when he visited the children, which he does frequently. HMRC are now alleging that they have been living together and are demanding proof to the contrary. We have offered various things such as letters to him from HMRC at his parents' home, the fact that he has registered a business there, and other correspondence, all of which is met with, "that doesn't prove anything." We have offered statements from all sorts of respectable people who know of and can attest to the separation but are simply told that that isn't evidence. They say he has not changed his driving licence address, which he admits, and seem to think that is clinching evidence. They say he has applied for finance using my daughter's address, which he denies. He does, however, admit that he has opened a new bank account using his driving licence with its old address, as proof of identity and residence. HMRC have told her by phone that they are stopping her benefits immediately and that she will receive a letter telling her how much she must repay, and that there may also be an additional penalty. I also fear there may be a criminal investigation. I accept that there is good reason for HMRC to be suspicious and to carry out checks, but the fact remains that she has been honest throughout and has been living alone since January. It seems that whatever evidence she offers to the contary is arbitrarily rejected. All this is down to the indolence and stupidity of her ex-partner, but it is she and the children who are suffering. What can we do?
  8. hi! When I started my degree I was single mum with one child. I received full financial help. After time I started live together with my partner and I become pregnant with my second baby. As full time student I cannot get any housing benefit- they said it is because I am not single anymore, even I have one 5y old baby and second on the way. Also I cannot claim Income support- because this type of benefit is only for single parents. I cannot get Job seekers allowance because I am student. I cannot get ESA, they said if I can study that mean I can also work. MY Child tax credit is in process for last 3 month. My husband is working- so he is paying £500 rent+ £140 council tax, + rest bills, car insurance and everything else and we cannot survive. We are in so bad situation, that WE Cannot afford to be together, bec when I was single at least I got some help... After baby I think I will go back to work, but anyway we need help at least for next 3 month... SO what you could advise? Thank you Bolton council said that It was MY DECISION TO MAKE RELATIONSHIPS ;(
  9. Hi, basically I came across this site as I decided to do an extensive search of the internet for answers. this is my sitution- basically im a single dad, with no support from my daughters mother. i'm 23 and live in the middle of nowhere very small town.the mother lives in a huge city miles away.. I was working for the NHS for 3 years and in March lost my job..so I had to sign on for jsa..basically when i first signed on the woman gave me around 30 sheets of paper with appointments in advance..a bit overwhelming..but anyway..to cut the story short.. i lost one of those pieces of paper..and it was for an appointment on june 26th..now i had another appointment on june 17th (which they changed)..now what happened was for some reason on june 26th i was meant to sign on then also later in the day go to an appointment at 1pm..i signed on on the 26th in the morning but no one made me aware of the 1pm appointment later in the date..and when i went home my daughter, who has a illness had some severe medical problems so i had to take her to hospital. I tried ringing my local jsa centre to inform them but the line was constantly busy and i only have a mobile (they are 0845) so the costs are unbearable. Anyway when i next showed up at the jsa centre, they had a massive go at me saying i was taking the ****, and so what if my daughter had a medical problem that wasn't their problem. I explaiend to them that i did try and contact them and i had got mixed up about the 1pm appointment but it was a genuine medical condition, and from day 1 of my original claim for jsa i clearly let them know i had a child. Anyway i was told after a phonecall to jsa i wouldn't be sanctioned for 2 weeks, as i had a payment due..no surprise i got sanctioned from that payment..so the last 3 weeks (as weve had a bank holiday and no signing on) ive had no money and had to budget my last jsa for myself and my daughter.. am set to sign on next week..but i never even got notification in letter form of how long my sanction is or why..or there reasons..i decided to ask jsa to appeal it and got a letter from the hospital, where they outlined that my daughter has a severe medical condition and if i hadn't bought her in it could have had severe reprecussions. As of yet i sent that off 3 weeks ago and i've had no reply I read on here i could go for a hardship loan..should i bother? or should i have acted earlier? the thing is im meant to sign on next week..and should get paid friday..but im moving back to my mothers yet ahve an appointment tuesday/wednesday..am i better to tell them im moving after i sign on or before?
  10. Hello and thanks for reading my post. Im in a situation where my mother had to go back to spain for another medical treatment and she has been gone for the last 4 months and since we do not live together I do not normally go to her house. Now it turned out that the house has not been paid for since she has left and yesterday I found 2 letters posted through her letterbox. One of them is Possesion Order and the other is a Notice of Eviction which is supposed to take place on the 4th of August. Now I can clear all the arrears of £1700 this week but Im not sure if I should empty my pocket completely for another 3 months if she is to loose the house anyway. The Notice of Eviction mentiones that she could apply for a suspension of eviction but Im not sure whether I would be able to do it for her since I have not lived with her for 30 years. Any help will be much appreciated.
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