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Alleged social fund debt that I've never heard of? HELP!!


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This might turn out to be a long thread, but just giving as much info as possible so you get the full story.

 

On the 11th January I recieved a letter from The Department of Works and Pensions debt management centre in Gloucestershire. The letter states that I owe the DWP a certain amount. It did not say how or when the debt was accrued and informed me that unless it is paid by the 11th (3 days from when I recieved the letter) the debt will be sought through the court system. However, I have no debt. I dispute the debt in question, as the only debt I have had with the Department of Works and Pensions was one social fund loan which was almost 8 years ago, to the sum of approximately £8, give or take a few pence (a day’s living expenses). This was a Crisis Loan, which was paid back in full, in cash at my local Social Fund Office, or Benefits Agency as it was named at that time. The last time I claimed benefit was approximately 8 years ago too, and I was on benefit for a significantly short period, I believe I claimed for approximately one month (Job Seekers Allowance), which I was entitled to claim and have never been asked to pay it back, therefore I am at a loss as to how this debt has come about and don’t believe it to be mine. The only other explanation I can consider was that the department were recently sending letters to a person who does not live at this address. When I telephoned to ask that the letters be stopped, as I had on several occasions returned them, writing on the envelope “Not at this address”, I was asked by the telephonist to open a letter addressed to this other person in order to provide him with a reference number (which I assume is the addressee’s National Insurance Number), which I refused to do, and should not have been asked to do by any member of staff within the department in accordance with the Data Protection Act. I told the staff member this request was in breach of security regulations. And as I myself work for the DWP (funnily enough in Social Fund), I reported this breach to our security advisor. During our conversation I did give my name to the telephonist, and I do hope that the department is not seeking another person’s debt to be cleared by me. This letter implied that I have had every opportunity to pay, and unless I pay in full by 11/01/2008, (3 days after my receipt of the letter) it will be sought via the court system. Firstly as I have stated, I do not believe that I have debt with DWP, secondly, I have had no letters regarding any sort of debt with the Department of Work and Pensions other than the one I received recently. I typed a letter to the person who sent me this communication, outlining what I have just said to you sent it by recorded. I asked that they provide me with any copies of evidence that the debt is mine, as I do not believe it is. I also asked them to be a little more specific and inform me how and when this alleged debt came about. In closing I stated that if I do not hear anything within 28 days, I will assume there has been an error and that no further letters regarding this will be sent to me.

 

Today I recieved their reply. This time it came from another address, and another city, - Darlington - saying it was a crisis loan fron the social fund, paid in 2000. it also stated that they are "not obliged to provide customers with a copy of the original loan acceptance form, in accordance with Departmental guidelines, as the evidence of the loan are held on the Social Fund Computer system, from the point where payment was awarded, and repayment of the loan agreed." - this is rubbish because funnily enough, I work in Social Fund, and I know, with working there that paper originals of application forms and acceptance letters are held, and retained until 14 months following the end of the financial year after the file becomes dormant(After the loan is repaid in full). I also know how errors occur, such as one which happened the other day. Thankfully the employee realised their mistake and I rectified it but if they hadn't, the loan would have been in another customers name, but paid into the original customers bank account. Customers can ask for a loan to be paid into anyone's bank account, it does not have to be the customers. It can be a partner, a parent a friend, anyone! So a loan being paid into another's account or a signature on a giro which is illegible would not nessecerily be queried. At that time, as far as I am aware all Social Fund decisions were issued in person to the customer, who would have had to sign to agree the repayment. Even now, where most of it is done over the phone, an offer letter is sent out or faxed to the customers local office, outlining the amount of the loan and repayment arrangements which the customer HAS to sign before the loan will be paid. I'm not about to type my national insurance number into the computer system to find out what's going on, I'd lose my job if I did that. (We are not permitted to access information about ourselves).

 

And apparently the reason was alignment to wages. Pardon my ignorance but I don't even know what an alignment to wages is. As far as I understand it, a crisis loan can be either for specific items or for living expenses, but I don't work in the crisis loan section. I've only worked in Social Fund for a little over a year and have never heard of any loans covering an alignment of wages. How can I apply for something I don't know anything about? It doesn't make sense. This can't be right. I know at the time they say the loan was issued I was in full time employment, I had no children at the time and was not on any sort of benefit. As far as I understand it, a customer has to be in reciept of a qualifying benefit in order to recieve a social fund loan or grant, therefore, I would not have been entitled to the loan; I would not have met the criteria as I was not in reciept of any benefits.

 

The department say that I need to prove I was not the recipient of the loan. That's impossible when until recently I wasn't even aware I was being pusued for it. I have been at this address since November 2003, but the address I lived at when this loan apparently came about, I was in until mid 2001. Surely if I owed them anything I would have known about it by now? Why would it be allowed to go unpaid for over a year without them making some kind of contact with me regarding it whilst I was at that address? They could have traced me at any time through my national insurance number, I cannot understand it taking them so long to ask a customer to repay a debt, it makes no sense to me whatsoever. They have instructed me to contact their office on the number to arrange a payment agreement.

 

I refuse to pay off a debt that I don't and never have had. I cannot believe they have told me to prove I am not in debt to them, that's impossible, but surely if they are accusing me of being in debt to them it is up to them to prove to me the debt rests with me, I know credit companies have to comply with this but I don't know if the government has to. As far as I am concerned if they expect me to pay a debt I have never had, I want conclusive proof it is mine, and I know that it isn't.

 

Is there anything I can do about this? I am a single parent and I struggle as it is without paying something that isn't mine to pay. (The department don't pay their employees well, despite a common misconception that they do).

HELP!

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You said you cannot access your own details at work, I think if it was me to start with I would take the letter to my line manager or HR and ask them to look into it for you.

Nat West Settled 2 acct's before action:

 

£2194.77 settled £1904.00 08/01/2007 less interest

£650.93 Settled overpaid GOGW £850.00 02/01/2007

 

Applied Abbey statements -40 day up 24/04/06(arrived 30/06/06)

Prem 04/01/2007 - reply rcvd 22nd Jan advising not paying

LBA 22/01/07

 

14/02/07 N1 filed @ local court

21/02/07 issued claim

23/02/07 deemed served

25/02/07 Abbey acknowledgement defend in full.

19/03/07 defence + 50% GOGW

13/04/07 AQ final day for submission

30/04/07 DEFENCE STRUCK OUT "ABUSE OF PROCESS"

01/05/07 Judgement order

8/05/07 Warrant of Execution requested

 

 

Media coverage :D

 

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/6701231.stm

 

http://www.newburytoday.co.uk/News/Article.aspx?articleID=4505

 

 

If you find my post helpfull then please click my scales:)

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Hi. They cannot do that either, as they are not allowed to look into a colleagues dealings with the department. Basically, we are not allowed to deal with anbody whom we know, which is why benefit and social fund are now dealt with via offices not in the customers locality. And they are not allowed to give colleagues advice on any queries they had as previous customers, I'd probably lose my job even asking them to do that, they are very strict on it. It has to be the office dealing with it, which is in England, I'm in Scotland.

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Think you have all the resources to hand, to look into the matter, better than anyone of us could.... you could ignore the payment request and let it be passed to DCA then you can seek all the info from them, chances are you might have had a loan which you have just forgot about, 8 years is a long time.....

!2 years Tesco distribution supervisor

7 years Sainsburys Transport Manager

 

4 Years housing officer ( Lettings )

Partner... 23 Years social services depts

 

All advice is given through own opition, also by seeking/searching info on behalf of poster, and own personnel dealings.

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Like I said when they say this loan was taken out, I was working full time, not on any benefits, therefore I would not have met the criteria to qualify - they would have refused

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Could you send them proof that you were in full-time employment at the time of the alledged loan? A bit of a long shot, but do you still have pay-slips?

Also, I know it's a different government department which deals with this, but surely they should be able to check that you were paying tax and national insurance contributions out of your wages at this time.

 

Looks like someone somewhere has made an almighty cock-up out of this! (I'm also a poorly paid DWP employee and know it can happen!)

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Ooh, Sarah, great idea!

 

I had thought about asking my previous employers where I worked at the time of the alledged loan for evidence of me working there via their payroll system, but as it was 8 years ago, they most probably would not have records, as they are only required to keep financial records for 7 years.

 

But I never thought on asking about PAYE evidence from Inland Revenue. That's a great help. And as I was on emergency tax at the time (new job), it should show up no bother, let's hope they still have a file on me from back then! I don't know how long IR keeps records for, but it can't do any harm to ask.

 

Thank you, Sarah.

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This might turn out to be a long thread, but just giving as much info as possible so you get the full story.

 

On the 11th January I recieved a letter from The Department of Works and Pensions debt management centre in Gloucestershire. The letter states that I owe the DWP a certain amount. It did not say how or when the debt was accrued and informed me that unless it is paid by the 11th (3 days from when I recieved the letter) the debt will be sought through the court system. However, I have no debt. I dispute the debt in question, as the only debt I have had with the Department of Works and Pensions was one social fund loan which was almost 8 years ago, to the sum of approximately £8, give or take a few pence (a day’s living expenses). This was a Crisis Loan, which was paid back in full, in cash at my local Social Fund Office, or Benefits Agency as it was named at that time. The last time I claimed benefit was approximately 8 years ago too, and I was on benefit for a significantly short period, I believe I claimed for approximately one month (Job Seekers Allowance), which I was entitled to claim and have never been asked to pay it back, therefore I am at a loss as to how this debt has come about and don’t believe it to be mine. The only other explanation I can consider was that the department were recently sending letters to a person who does not live at this address. When I telephoned to ask that the letters be stopped, as I had on several occasions returned them, writing on the envelope “Not at this address”, I was asked by the telephonist to open a letter addressed to this other person in order to provide him with a reference number (which I assume is the addressee’s National Insurance Number), which I refused to do, and should not have been asked to do by any member of staff within the department in accordance with the Data Protection Act. I told the staff member this request was in breach of security regulations. And as I myself work for the DWP (funnily enough in Social Fund), I reported this breach to our security advisor. During our conversation I did give my name to the telephonist, and I do hope that the department is not seeking another person’s debt to be cleared by me. This letter implied that I have had every opportunity to pay, and unless I pay in full by 11/01/2008, (3 days after my receipt of the letter) it will be sought via the court system. Firstly as I have stated, I do not believe that I have debt with DWP, secondly, I have had no letters regarding any sort of debt with the Department of Work and Pensions other than the one I received recently. I typed a letter to the person who sent me this communication, outlining what I have just said to you sent it by recorded. I asked that they provide me with any copies of evidence that the debt is mine, as I do not believe it is. I also asked them to be a little more specific and inform me how and when this alleged debt came about. In closing I stated that if I do not hear anything within 28 days, I will assume there has been an error and that no further letters regarding this will be sent to me.

 

Today I recieved their reply. This time it came from another address, and another city, - Darlington - saying it was a crisis loan fron the social fund, paid in 2000. it also stated that they are "not obliged to provide customers with a copy of the original loan acceptance form, in accordance with Departmental guidelines, as the evidence of the loan are held on the Social Fund Computer system, from the point where payment was awarded, and repayment of the loan agreed." - this is rubbish because funnily enough, I work in Social Fund, and I know, with working there that paper originals of application forms and acceptance letters are held, and retained until 14 months following the end of the financial year after the file becomes dormant(After the loan is repaid in full).After 4 years the information i suspose to be shreded as confidental waste and binned. I also know how errors occur, such as one which happened the other day. Thankfully the employee realised their mistake and I rectified it but if they hadn't, the loan would have been in another customers name, but paid into the original customers bank account. Customers can ask for a loan to be paid into anyone's bank account, it does not have to be the customers. It can be a partner, a parent a friend, anyone! So a loan being paid into another's account or a signature on a giro which is illegible would not nessecerily be queried. At that time, as far as I am aware all Social Fund decisions were issued in person to the customer, who would have had to sign to agree the repayment. Even now, where most of it is done over the phone, an offer letter is sent out or faxed to the customers local office, outlining the amount of the loan and repayment arrangements which the customer HAS to sign before the loan will be paid. I'm not about to type my national insurance number into the computer system to find out what's going on, I'd lose my job if I did that. (We are not permitted to access information about ourselves).

 

And apparently the reason was alignment to wages. Pardon my ignorance but I don't even know what an alignment to wages is. As far as I understand it, a crisis loan can be either for specific items or for living expenses, but I don't work in the crisis loan section. I've only worked in Social Fund for a little over a year and have never heard of any loans covering an alignment of wages. How can I apply for something I don't know anything about? It doesn't make sense. This can't be right. I know at the time they say the loan was issued I was in full time employment, I had no children at the time and was not on any sort of benefit. As far as I understand it, a customer has to be in reciept of a qualifying benefit in order to recieve a social fund loan or grant, therefore, I would not have been entitled to the loan; I would not have met the criteria as I was not in reciept of any benefits.

 

The department say that I need to prove I was not the recipient of the loan. That's impossible when until recently I wasn't even aware I was being pusued for it. I have been at this address since November 2003, but the address I lived at when this loan apparently came about, I was in until mid 2001. Surely if I owed them anything I would have known about it by now? Why would it be allowed to go unpaid for over a year without them making some kind of contact with me regarding it whilst I was at that address? They could have traced me at any time through my national insurance number, I cannot understand it taking them so long to ask a customer to repay a debt, it makes no sense to me whatsoever. They have instructed me to contact their office on the number to arrange a payment agreement.

 

I refuse to pay off a debt that I don't and never have had. I cannot believe they have told me to prove I am not in debt to them, that's impossible, but surely if they are accusing me of being in debt to them it is up to them to prove to me the debt rests with me, I know credit companies have to comply with this but I don't know if the government has to. As far as I am concerned if they expect me to pay a debt I have never had, I want conclusive proof it is mine, and I know that it isn't.

 

Is there anything I can do about this? I am a single parent and I struggle as it is without paying something that isn't mine to pay. (The department don't pay their employees well, despite a common misconception that they do).

HELP!

 

Send them a SAR request.

 

I no how mistakes come about with the DWP as well and as result of one if there my family and l are still suffering. I have recieved all my paperwork from the time of the problem except the socail fund stuff that i have asked for. Even tho they were told not to get rid of any of my paperwork there did and as a result of this l found out they only have to keep the files in archive for 4 years.

 

Chrissi

OFT debt collection guidance

 

Please remember the only stupid question is the one you dont ask so dont worry about asking the stupid questions.

 

Essex girl in pc world looking 4 curtains 4 her pc,the assistant says u dont need curtains 4 a computer!!Essex girl says,''HELLOOO!! i,ve got WINDOWS!!'.

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Creditors and DCAs - Letter Templates & Budget Planner

 

Here is the templates letters from the debt forum.

 

You will need to senda £10 cheque or postal order and send it buy at least recorded delivery as it is a legal request you will need to be able to provide proof of postage and recipt.

 

Dont sign the letter as it is not a legal requirement and companys INCLUDING the DWP have been known to get photoshop happy.

 

If you have any further questions just shout.

 

Oh a SAR request should give you full details of you details held with the company so in other words from that information you will be able to find out when u signed on and went u signed off.

Chrissi

  • Haha 1

OFT debt collection guidance

 

Please remember the only stupid question is the one you dont ask so dont worry about asking the stupid questions.

 

Essex girl in pc world looking 4 curtains 4 her pc,the assistant says u dont need curtains 4 a computer!!Essex girl says,''HELLOOO!! i,ve got WINDOWS!!'.

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the SAR requests have been removed due to the link failing.

 

I will get back to you in the morning with one as the person l need to ask for one is no longer on line.

 

Chrissi

OFT debt collection guidance

 

Please remember the only stupid question is the one you dont ask so dont worry about asking the stupid questions.

 

Essex girl in pc world looking 4 curtains 4 her pc,the assistant says u dont need curtains 4 a computer!!Essex girl says,''HELLOOO!! i,ve got WINDOWS!!'.

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there is a department within work that could save you £10.00

 

When you write a department and request your file they will ask the data protection officer to write to you.

 

That is how l gained the file i have.

 

Maybe what you should do is write to Darlington requesting you file and see what comes threw the post.

 

Chrissi

OFT debt collection guidance

 

Please remember the only stupid question is the one you dont ask so dont worry about asking the stupid questions.

 

Essex girl in pc world looking 4 curtains 4 her pc,the assistant says u dont need curtains 4 a computer!!Essex girl says,''HELLOOO!! i,ve got WINDOWS!!'.

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what you should get is a letter from the data protection officer asking what you require and from what dates.

 

You just need to tick what you want l would advise you tick all socail fund loans paper work both clerical and other and then also ticket for your jobseekers files as that should also help you.

 

Chrissi

OFT debt collection guidance

 

Please remember the only stupid question is the one you dont ask so dont worry about asking the stupid questions.

 

Essex girl in pc world looking 4 curtains 4 her pc,the assistant says u dont need curtains 4 a computer!!Essex girl says,''HELLOOO!! i,ve got WINDOWS!!'.

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Ok, sorry, maybe I am being obtuse, but you said you had a small loan 8 years ago, which you've repaid.

 

The debt is referring to a loan in 2000.

 

Could it simply be the same loan, which you say you had repaid in cash, for which repayment would have gone astray?

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Hi Bookworm. No it's not the same one, the loan I had was in the region of £8 - one days living expenses, as when I signed on to Jobseekers allowance, my girocheque did not arrive, they kept telling me to come back this day and that, eventually it was due for my second payment and that didn't arrive either, so they gave me a days living expenses while they sorted out the problem. That was the last time I signed on, and it was 2 months prior to when this loan came about. This loan is almost £200

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  • 3 weeks later...

Newbie, you said,

"apparently the reason was alignment to wages. Pardon my ignorance but I don't even know what an alignment to wages is."

F.Y.I. alignment payments are a stop-gap payment either - to benefit claimants when delays in processing their JSA, IS or IB etc. or - people returning to work whose final benefit payment is insufficient to last until first pay-day, e.g. moving from fortnightly paid welfare to a monthly salary.

 

It will not be helpful going to the bother of obtaining either pay slips or tax records showing that you were working at the time of the alleged Crisis Loan, it doesn't prove that you couldn't have received a CL.

I'd just like to correct the misconception that people (e.g. Newbie) have, i.e. that people have to be receiving a "gateway benefit" in order to get a Crisis Loan. In fact this only applies to the two other elements of "discretionary Social Fund payments", which are "Community Care Grants" and "Budgeting Loans". Strangely, (even) people without a N.I. number can qualify for a CL subject to their being able to prove their ability to repay the loan.

 

"Deciding if a crisis loan is appropriate

216. CLs are not restricted to people receiving IS, JSA(IB), PC or payment on account of such benefits or any other social security benefit"

Source: Social Fund Guide (Part 3 - Crisis Loans) http://www.dwp.gov.uk/advisers/socialfundguide/sfguide/social-fund-guide7-june07.pdf

 

And more bad news is that - there's no statute of limitations on the time they can take to reclaim a CL. I read on another forum of someone also being pursued after 9 years, and worse, he's sure that it was repaid via deductions from other benefits. Godzilla knows how he's supposed to provide the proof? It would seem that we all have to retain and file every financial record, Giro counterfoil and pay slip ever received.

Another case which came to my attention is of someone who was in the middle of a term of H.M. Custody when he is alleged to have received his CL 8 years ago. His theory is that someone else used his identity and had the money paid to a third party, its perfectly feasible that Newbie was victim of a similar fraud because the Secretary of States guidance does permit payment to 3rd parties.

"Third party payments

221. The award should normally be payable to the applicant. However, DMs also have power to make payment to a third party who can provide, or arrange for the provision of, the items or expenses covered by the award. See Sections 138(3) and 139(5) of the Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992.

222. This power should only be used exceptionally, for example, where there is firm evidence that the award may not be used for its intended purpose. If you do decide to make such a payment, document the reasons fully, since a DM's determination to make payments to a third party can be reviewed like any other documentation."

Source: Social Fund Guide (Part 3 - Crisis Loans) http://www.dwp.gov.uk/advisers/socialfundguide/sfguide/social-fund-guide7-june07.pdf

  • Haha 1

I'm not a qualified welfare rights adviser, but I'm planning on becoming one. I'm no substitute for more competent advice from trained CAB and welfare rights workers - [URL="http://www.consumeractiongroup.co.uk/forum/benefits-tax-credits-minimum/127741-benefits-advice.html"]see this post[/URL] by Joa, great advice and links! I've been running a Crisis Loan campaign and help since Jan 2007 . See my annotations c/o "theyworkforyou". I'm also currently interested by the recent DWP Medical Services reform and the effect this is having on valid claims, seriously - someone needs to be keeping a suicide count.

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