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    • You mention covid holiday in your title.. did you have one and missed or deferred payments?   tell us the story please though a mortgage company rarely refuses for one default.there must be another reason   DX
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Housing benefit admin penalty & summons ***WON***


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Hello

Please can you help me.

 

I have been receiving housing benefit at my current address since February 2004, I have 2 small children, I live with my partner in private rented accommodation. We receive child benefit and tax credits.

 

Since starting my claim it has continually been miss-calculated because of the housing officers that have dealt with it keep inputting wage information incorrectly. This kept causing over payments and under payments.

During 2007 my benefit was still continually being miss-calculated.

 

I would like to point out that i have always ensured information regarding my household income is accurate and up to date and handed in on time, though mostly before requested.

 

My partner works full time for the local council and has contracted weekend overtime, one week on one week off, this causes his wages to change on a 2 weekly pattern. Due to this the housing benefit is done based on an average wage, though this is where the problems kept arising.

 

In May 2007 my partner was hospitalized and was off work until October, though as he worked for the council for over 6 years he gets full sick pay, though despite his overall wages not changing during this time, our housing benefit entitlement continued to be miss-calculated, again causing over payments and also underpayments.

 

I later found that the miss-calculations were due to odd number of weeks being calculated as the average, and therefore giving a misleading average - nothing to do with me- I provided the wage information. I did not implement them.

 

I have filed several complaints regarding my benefit and have disputed the

amounts given on numerous occasions but am continually told the calculations are correct, only then to be told their is an over payment/ underpayment later on. Its ridiculous. I asked for my benefit to be calculated week by week to prevent this from happening, but was told it was not how the system works, they use an average.

 

Yet when they cannot enter the information in this manner correctly how is it right.

 

On the odd occasion my partners contracted overtime would not be

implemented on the correct week, and would be added to the following week, whenever this happened i notified the officer taking payslips from me, so made aware, but this again did not stop the mistakes from happening.

Because of the continual mistakes and lack of money being received from housing benefit, despite our income not having changed. I started looking for work, as my youngest child was due to start school in the September 2007 it was ideal to find work which was during school hours.

 

I went to the local job centre and enquired as to how many hours i was entitled to do, and how it would affect my benefit situation. i was informed that providing i worked under 16 hours there would be no change.

I saw a vacancy at my children's school for a dinner lady position and applied, I was offered the job, working 5 hours 50 minutes a day term time only- earning £30 a week -though did not know how much initially.

 

I telephoned the council informing of my employment offer, but as no wage information was told to provide more information once started employment.

I started work on the 12Th October and had my first wage at the end of October, though this was only for 2 weeks work and was not a true reflection of my earnings. Despite this i telephoned tax credits and informed them of my job and how much I'd earned but explained the situation. A new award was processed. I also telephoned the council and explained that I'd bring payslips in at the end of November when i would be paid a full month, so a true reflection of wages would be implemented.

 

Once I got paid at the end of November i telephoned tax credits and informed them about my new wage information, and i took the payslips into my council office, i was issued a receipt for these.

 

My benefit entitlement continued to change and i still did not agree with the decision. i telephoned on numerous occasions protesting it, but again was told it was correct.

 

I continued to provide payslips, and also telephoned to inform of a delay in

going in with a normal yearly review form due not having information available at the time, but would provide as soon as possible.

 

Out of the blue in June i received a pink review form headed back to work, and with it a suspension notice, saying my benefit was being stopped due to me starting work. i immediately telephoned the officer who had sent me the letter, and asked what was going on. They said I'd started work and needed to complete this form. i was confused as I'd previously notified of my job back in October yet they are now asking me to fill this form. He said they had no record of my employment until now.

 

I completed the two review forms (normal and pink) and took into the housing office along with everything regarding my job. at the office the housing officer tore up the review form and put it in the waist bin next to the desk. I objected to this but was told it was not required. I was shocked. It had all my information and my partners information, and was requested that i return, yet he just destroyed it.

 

I then received a letter asking me to attend an interview under caution as they believed my benefit claim to be fraudulent.

 

I attended the interview and answered their questions.

I provided them with the information regarding my job though they say not received nor were my telephone calls.

 

Unfortunately in the new year myself and my partner had a massive clear out, and i shredded lots of old documents, and with this was lots of housing benefit notifications and old receipts. At the time I was unaware that I'd later need this information.

 

I work 5 hours 50 minutes in term time only and earn £130 a month, I notified them as soon as i took the job, and when paid. Yet as they are claiming they are unable to trace the information or the receipt it is hard for me to prove this point. I can prove that i telephoned during this time because I have itemised billing. I can also show that the officers dealing with my claim have continued to not input information correctly.

 

After the interview under caution I then received a letter unexpected from a housing officer who had re- assessed my claim and while doing so noticed another mistake. A rent evaluation had not been implemented since January 2007, and this caused an underpayment of £429. Though instead of paying off all the over payment, they issued a one off payment to me and left the overpayment with a balance of £250. I telephoned and asked what was happening, and was told of the error but at this point the officer thought the overpayment was cleared and assured me my claim would be calculated correct from now on.

 

The next day I received a letter informing me that the total overpaid to me was £425, and that i had to pay this back, but the amount of the overpayment was incorrect. It also said i was being offered to pay a 30% administrative penalty based on the overpayment. I was not accepting this especially when the amount of the overpayment is wrong, as the penalty is based on the amount overpaid. In this letter it had a date and time for an interview regarding the admin penalty, though on this date I was going to be away - otherwise i would have attended. This letter was from the investigating officer, though under the interview information it said to ask for someone. It did not mention why, or what department they worked for, only their name, and to ask for them. I telephoned the officer who sent the letter and explained i was unable to attend the interview as away on holiday, and away again the following week. Another interview was not offered to me. i asked what the interview was for, and was told it was regarding the admin penalty. As I explained I have done nothing wrong so why should I pay a penalty for their mistake, and also based on their previous history in my claim cannot assure they will not do it again- which means that the penalty is not an option. I also informed the officer that I'd received a letter informing me that there had been another mistake, though was not believed and was told the amount of the overpayment was irrelevant, despite it is what the penalty is based upon.

 

As I informed the officer I was not going to accept the penalty i was told that because of this i will face court proceedings which could result in me losing my job working in a school, and did i understand the risks involved. I said their is not risk as i have not committed an offence. The call was ended, I then called straight back and re pointed out that i was not refusing the interview - the only reason I was not able to attend was due to being on holiday. The officer confirmed that this was understood.

 

I received another revised letter regarding the overpayment, but with the

amended amount as the underpayment had been partially offset against it, and a new 30% admin penalty stated, the interview information was left blank. With this it states because on holiday the forms have been sent in the post, and will await return by set date. A non-acceptance form included with this.

I did not agree with how this had all been done. I did not agree with the forms received regarding the penalty, so i wrote my own non acceptance and a dispute regarding overpayment and how my claim is calculated. I also pointed out that according to the housing benefit and council tax benefits section 4 anti fraud policies it states:

 

The officer who administers the administrative penalty should not be the same officer in the interview under caution.

 

yet it was the same person. This again has been refused.

I have now received a summons to attend court, they are summonsing me under sections 112 of the social security administration's act.

In this is the evidence and statements they have presented though I do not know what to do with it.

 

I have asked for legal advice, and was told by legal aid they cannot assist me, I have contacted several solicitors but they will not take the case as not able to get legal aid. Though everything i have read regarding legal rights i am entitled to a free solicitor as my first time in a magistrates court and i also qualify due to my financial situation. Yet have been told legal aid to not fund cases based on principal. Yet my case is that I am NOT GUILY. I am innocent.

I have been searching for advice and help online but to no avail.

 

I have been told by the solicitor that i should have accepted the penalty and appealed the decision with the council direct. But I disagree with this. The whole overpayment should never have happened, they did not input the information and then at the same time did not have my benefit entitlement correct because of rent information which they also had available, yet again it was not implemented correctly.

 

With administrative penalties you are backed into a corner because if your not guilty, they say it is not an admission of guilt, its just a way of accepting a small fine, with no court proceedings. However. They can later re-open the case and still prosecute you in the future if another overpayment occurs. Based on my claims history of how they have messed it up this is ridiculous.

Not accepting the penalty automatically refers the case back to their legal

team who decide if to prosecute. In my case they have decided to go ahead.

I will not accept a penalty based on their mistakes. i have been paying back the overpaid monies from my current entitlement, though again since all this they have since underpaid me and underpaid me on 2 occasions, again based on wage information.

 

I would also like to add one other point. On my applications for benefit and in writing myself and my partner have given the council full permission to get our payment information direct from our employers. My partners was done in early 2007, and mine when filled in review forms.

 

I am sorry to have waffled on but there is a lot to my situation which is

relevant to getting the proper picture of the situation and whats happened.

If anyone has been in a similar situation or knows of sites or anything of use

regarding my situation i would be most grateful.

Thanks

Edited by citizenB
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Hello and Welcome, bubblzbee.

 

I'll move this thread to the appropriate Forum, hopefully you'll get some advice.

 

Regards.

 

Scott.

 
 

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If in doubt, you should seek the opinion of a Qualified Professional.

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Help keep it up and active, helping people like you.

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My daughter is an Housing Benefit Contractor I will email her tomorrow as she is not contactable today, unless anyone else has helped you in the meantime.

Thats kind of you surprise :wink:

I QUESTION THEREFORE I AM!! [sIGPIC][/sIGPIC]

 

Unfortunately i'm not an expert in any given field legally and my advice and that of the Consumer Action Group and the Bank Action Group is given without prejudice and without liability so please if in any doubt whatsoever seek help from an insured qualified professional. Contents of my posts are purely my own personal opinions and not condoned or endorsed in any way, shape or form by CAG. Thank you! :p

 

 

I have been smoke-free for 4yrs

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My daughter has just popped in for a flying visit. She has read your post and there was a few gasps. Her advice is don't mess about any more with your council go straight to the Ombudsman for maladministration. Apparently there are several councils now being fined for maladministration and she said yours is a clear case of this. I'm not sure what Council you come under but if you look at their website it should give you the address of the Ombudsman for your area.

 

Good luck, if you need any further help please ask.

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Hello.

I had something similar with my council (overpayments) and it took me four years to get it sorted.

In my case I wrote that while i didn't accept the debt was accurate i would make regular payments on the understanding that if the overpayment was not proved that i would be repaid.

It might be worth formally complaining and escalate it to the chief executive of the housing department.

There is a little known thing called retrospective housing benefit (but not all councils use it) where in the event of complaint the council will go back over the housing benefit claims to check whether mistakes have been made. BEWARE. If they do this it could show that you owe them more.

 

This is also something they don't like to advertise.

Housing benefit overpayments are legally recoverable unless:

The overpayment was caused by official error- this means the overpayment was due to something done, or not done by the council or the benefits agency

AND: You or someone receiving the benefit( eg private landlord) could not have reasonably been expected to know that an overpayment was being made at the time that the payment was notified ir received.

 

That basically means that if you didnt know about the overpayment and someone at the council mucked up then you could argue that you are not liable.

As other posters have said, get this case to the Local Government Ombudsman. The one I used in coventry were brilliant.

Fox

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Oh yes forgot to mention. the ombudsman got me £200 compensation:):):)

fox

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Thankyou for your help both surprise and silverfox1961. :D

 

It is hard to fit everything that has happened in, so much has happened. I have drafted a letter to send to the local ombudsman for my council , do i need to header it maladministration though?

Edited by bubblzbee
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From what i gather then because I can prove that housing officers have caused overpayments because of their mistakes and not implimenting the information provided correctly, i am able to dispute the overpayment itself?even though it has already been paid back(they have been collecting it back from current entitlement at £17 a week)

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Head your letter Official Complaint Housing Benefit (Name the Local Authority).

Put somewhere in the letter that you believe the events and the situation you find yourself in are down to maladministration by the LA.

 

My daughter did say that the Councils do act fast once you have made a complaint to the Ombudsman. I would get your letter off very quickly she was aghast at the events in your post this is why she said go straight to the Ombudsman, normally she would have recommended a complaint to the Chief Executive but your case has gone past that.

 

Best wishes, keep us posted.

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Thankyou so so much.

This has been a complete nightmare. I will change my letter to put in information, and send it monday. I refuse to stop fighting this as I know the council are wrong in what they have done its just knowing who you need to contact and getting your point across in the right way.

Thankyou so much for your help and your daughter, I will keep you posted on what happens. Thanks:D

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The Ombudsman are very fair and rest assured that if any compensation is due you will get the right amount and the Council will be made to put right their errors. My daughter was herself a claimant with our local authority a few years back and she went to the Ombudsman and she was awarded £1500. So it does work.

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Glad to help.

The issue with the magistrates court. As far as I'm aware (although someone may come along and prove me wrong:rolleyes:) you have been issued with a summons to attend the magistrates court. I do think you have to attend but you are entitled to represent yourself and to plead not guilty if you wish (you will) the magistrate will help and the case should be adjourned for you to assemble your defence. as it's a criminal offence you are answering to, unless you are rich, you are entitled to free legal advice. If you explain that to the magistrate, they may be able to help. Unless it's a stipendury Magistrate (who is legally trained) other magistrates are laymen or women who take legal advice from the court staff.

 

Note: I'm basing this advice on personal experience of the court from about 10 years ago so things may have changed (in case you're wondering- motoring offence)

 

If you get your complaint in to the council and ombudsman( sometimes if you haven't complained to the council first, the ombudsman may refuse to help until you have gone down that route) it may help in the court case but don't bank on it.

one other thing about councils. If you manage to get an apology off them, that will be a miracle. In my case they wouldn't. Good luck

fox

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These senior moments are getting to me lol.

forgot to mention. when posting letters to the council use recorded delivery and if you hand deliver them, get a receipt. Unless you have a recording machine, it's not in my opinion a wise thing to talk to them on the phone as there is no proof of what has been said,

fox

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These senior moments are getting to me lol.

forgot to mention. when posting letters to the council use recorded delivery and if you hand deliver them, get a receipt. Unless you have a recording machine, it's not in my opinion a wise thing to talk to them on the phone as there is no proof of what has been said,

fox

Dont i know it!

Although my case is not with the benefits section but the housing dept :mad:

I QUESTION THEREFORE I AM!! [sIGPIC][/sIGPIC]

 

Unfortunately i'm not an expert in any given field legally and my advice and that of the Consumer Action Group and the Bank Action Group is given without prejudice and without liability so please if in any doubt whatsoever seek help from an insured qualified professional. Contents of my posts are purely my own personal opinions and not condoned or endorsed in any way, shape or form by CAG. Thank you! :p

 

 

I have been smoke-free for 4yrs

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My daughter has advised because of the circumstances she can go straight to the Ombudsman, although as previously stated she would have said to send a complaint to the Chief Executive.

 

Another avenue open to you is for you to see your Welfare Officer, each LA should have one, check out your website. They are usually very good.

 

In the meantime still get your letter off to the Ombudsman.

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Surprise.

The Ombudsman is quick but my case was so complicated that it took two years for them to resolve but hey, i cant work anymore so what else had i to do with my time:p

 

Callumsgran.

I'm sure i went grey with the stress from my council. If you ain't grey yet, you soon will be lol:p:p

fox

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I suppose the length of time it takes will depend on how complexed each case is.

 

I would also certainly advise the poster to contact the Welfare officer as they should be able to help you with representation at Court.

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I have sent a letter off recorded delivery to the local Ombudsman outlining all the details of my situation and the issues raised. I have put I believe this is due to maladministration of the council(named which one). I will keep updated on what happens.

I have got an appointment on Wednesday 29th with a solicitors, will update on what happens there too.

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BB - I had just finished replying to your post when the site went down this morning.

 

My daughter said do not let the Council get wind of the fact that you have gone to the ombudsman. Forewarned is forearmed;)

 

Good luck.

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My daughter said do not let the Council get wind of the fact that you have gone to the ombudsman. Forewarned is forearmed;)

 

Absolutely, They'll find out soon enough and they don't like having to deal with the ombudsman.

fox

If you are asked to deal with any matter via private message, PLEASE report it.

Everything I say is opinion only. If you are unsure on any comment made, you should see a qualified solicitor

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sorry surprise, looks like i stole that line from you when i meant to quote you. ah well, more practice

fox

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No problem. Have not let them know anything of the letter.

One thing I wanted to ask is if it matters.

The information sent with the summons included the written statement of the investigating officer, though in this statment she has got my address and National Insurrance number wrong - it has been signed by a witness too. Does this hold any relevence in respect that she has signed a declaration saying everything in statement is true. For an investigating officer this is rather sloppy and since it has already being submitted to the court she cannot correct it either can she?

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