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    • its not a penalty charge. hope you've not used that word or the word FINE in any comms else you'll be viewed as someone that hasn't a clue what they are talking about...
    • An update 2 weeks further-on for the benefit of anyone coming along later in similar circumstances or currently following for a directly related reason.   No response to date from the Hospital, either to original correspondence or subsequent chase.   No response yet from PALS, written-to with all details/copies just a week ago after allowing a period for the Hospital to respond to a chase letter and step-up and have the penalty charge cancelled.   All corres. Special Delivery.   Parking charge reminder received from CPP dated 11 days after original (no contact intended with CPP, less than zero intention of making payment this side of eternity.)   FOI request sent Re. car parking equipment reported-faults - request received and acknowledged.   MP contacted, details/copies provided, moving toward meeting Re their involvement.   To contact press, local radio etc. accordingly.   Watch this space ...            
    • Hi all, apologies for the late degree of replies, I was using a mobile earlier and could not navigate the page very well. I have been trying to reply to each individual reply but cannot see where I can do that and I used "quote" which I am informed is incorrect (apologies if this has somewhat cocked things up)   Anyway I have established a little more info , as per Andy's enquiry, James ( my friend and the client in this instance) has confirmed it was Debt Free Direct who had set up the original IVA but they went into administration and were sold onto a company called Apperture, This is the company that Equity in Finance are supposedly holding any PPI recoveries for.   It transpires that Equity In Finance were "promoted" by Debt Free Direct as being able to recover PPI costs for James on the premise that HE would be receiving any recoveries less their fee for handling the claims, there was absolutely NO transparency that they would be with-holding all funds received for any and ALL ppi claims whether involved or not.   James is calling to see me tomorrow and we are going to check his credit file and also send off SAR's to ALL parties involved in the debacle. This will include, Apperture, Equity in Finance, The IP who handled the IVA and each of the banks/ loan companies & credit card companies he has personally claimed PPI from and also the ones that Equity in Finance have handled directly.   As I say there is definitely a rabbit off somewhere - Equity in Finance have taken / been sent every penny of the PPI recoveries including the ones that they have had no involvement in and the most recent being just in the last 4 weeks, despite the IVA being advised as closed in 2013 !!   even on the initial debt of £17000 plus fees ( currently shown on debt free direct website @ circa £3500 - yes they are apparently trading again !! ) the payments made under the IVA and the recoveries under PPI  have totalled been more than £40k so James is owed a hell of a lot of money which I can see no way that these companies are legally with-holding from him.   Lets see what the SARS bring in and then we will have a more defined basis of EXACTLY what we are looking at    Thanks guys for the initial advices - I will keep you all up to date on developments but any advices in the interim would be greatly accepted    Just a few links for reference :-  https://www.credit-connect.co.uk/commercial-news/corporate-insolvency/debt-free-direct-sold-aperture/   Debt free directs current ?? website https://www.debtfreedirect.co.uk/   Debt free direct confirmation of average fees and how paid   https://www.debtfreedirect.co.uk/fees
    • I have known some just take their commision direct from the account......as long as they are only invoicing you thats fine...ignore their invoices.
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HelloDarkWorld

Westminster Housing Options – is it a sham? (Choice Based Lettings)

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After spending some time trying to get housed through Choice Based Lettings on medical grounds, and getting an unfair sense of things within the lettings (after I learnt my top-level Choice Based Lettings bids were not being honoured), me and friends started digging around a little deeper. And the results appear to be disturbing. While it is impossible to share all of our findings on a single forum post, I’ll share some examples. Any advice, opinions, suggestions, etc. are most welcome!

 

The Allocation Scheme states (s.2.7.8 and s.2.7.9):

 

"It is likely that Property Mobility Category 3 properties will be unsuitable for Mobility Category 1 and 2 applicants and that section 2.2.14 will apply. Subject to that, those in Mobility Category 1 will have priority over those in Mobility Category 2 and they will have priority over those in Mobility Category 3 who will have priority over those in Mobility Category 4.

 

When persons within the same Mobility Category bid for an advertised Mobility Category property, priority will depend upon who has the most points and, if equal, whose application is the earliest in time."

 

These rules set out in the Allocation Scheme are not being followed and properties are allocated purely on decisions of the lettings mangers. This is why when I placed my bid for a Mobility 3 property, I was not invited for viewing or contacted about the property despite being in position 2, with mobility 3 priority and 200 points. The property was allocated to a bidder with 150 points instead.

 

Lord Scott - Ahmad case (R Ahmad v LB Newham [2009] UKHL 14) – states:

 

"To allow the choice to depend upon the judgment of a Council official, or a committee of officials, no matter how experienced and well trained he, she or they might be, would lack transparency and be likely to lead to a plethora of costly litigation based on allegations of favouritism or discrimination."

 

We requested for bidding data under the Freedom of Information and we found that people with top priorities are waiting for many years while applicants with Mobility 4 priority and lower points can selectively get housed into Mobility 3 properties within as little as one month! See sample stats attached (go straight to page 2 of the attachment).

 

[to be continued...]

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A case study:

 

During 'Week 23' 15 flats in a new development (Lavington Buildings, Ogle Street, London) were advertised on the publically accessible flyer as available for bidding.

 

The one bedroom flat that was falsely advertised on the flyer on Tuesday 03/09/2013 onwards was supposed to be available for biddings on the Wednesday 04/09/2013 (biddings open up on Wednesdays). But while the flat was advertised on the flyer, the flat disappeared from the biddings system.

 

I phoned up about the flat and kicked up a bid of a fuss about it. I was then told the flat was withdrawn for a severe disability case surrounding a lady in a wheelchair. I did not believe the Council much as they clearly state no Mobility 1 or 2 properties suitable for wheelchair users will ever be advertised on Choice Based Lettings.

 

After raising a number of complaints, I found the property re-listed on the flyer on 02/10/2013 and it was now available for bidding on the Choice Based Lettings.

 

Amazingly, data received under the Freedom of Information unveiled that the property was in fact allocated to a Mobility 4 applicant (an applicant without mobility issues) who was on the Housing Register for 1 month; approved for the register on 04/09/2013 – one day after the flat was originally advertised on the flyer before it went missing on the biddings system. The winning applicant was technically in 37th position. This was a Mobility 3 property but was not allocated to any of the 11 Mobility 3 bidders. See bidding data attached ("bidding data - lavngton.pdf" page 1.

 

So far Westminster Council are failing to address this incident or my complaint about their failure to follow the allocation scheme in my Stage 2 complaints. I requested for an oral hearing but was told I cannot address the allocation scheme or my housing application (which is another interesting story!)

 

According to the data we received under the Freedom of Information, only flats 1, 2, 3, 5 and 9 of Lavington Buildings have been listed within the bidding data – that’s 5 flats of 15. Who knows what happened to the other 10 flats that were advertised on the flyer.

 

When I placed my bid for the one bedroom flat at Lavington Buildings, my bidding position was published for my attention on my biddings account - I was supposedly in position 16 out of 50.

 

However, when I received the bidding data I calculated my position in accordance to the rules set out in the Allocation Scheme and my position was actually 7! The Council had withheld my actual bidding position! When applicants think they are in position 2 or 3, they could actually be in position 1 and not even know about it. I think this is outrageous.

 

The system also shows estimate bidding positions, and obviously having inaccurately calculated estimate positions (estimate positions are calculated on the same principal as the actual bidding positions) it influences the actions of the bidder. IMO displayed bidding positions should be accurate.

Edited by HelloDarkWorld

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In addition to this it seems a bidding restriction can be placed/lifted on bidders as per and when Housing Options please without former announcement or reason.

 

There seems to be an immense amount of manipulation within lettings and information the Council provide to me as a bidder is frustratingly misleading.

 

They also have introduced a quota that allows only 4 medical priority applicants to get housed into one bed flats per year, meaning Category A waiting list is restricted from bidding. Although that is dubious as well as I was told 'Cat A does not exist'...

 

I was told I have to expect to wait 10+ years as a medical priority applicant. It seems even if I bid when the restrictions are lifted I have no chance of getting rehoused until the lettings managers decide to 'favour' me. Hmmmm... Seems odd to me..

 

Any comments? Thoughts on my posts above?

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I have been having problems with Westminster Housing Options too. They are a bunch of idiots.

As the council has a duty to transparency, could you get a list of reasons for awarding each flat to the person who got it? Freedom of Information request?

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I have been having problems with Westminster Housing Options too. They are a bunch of idiots.

As the council has a duty to transparency, could you get a list of reasons for awarding each flat to the person who got it? Freedom of Information request?

 

You should be able to get information on how they allocate generally, but I should think individual cases would be covered by data protection.


 

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What's Best for You?

 

 

The Consumer Action Group is a free help site.

Should you be offered help that requires payment please report it to site team.

 

Alliance & Leicester Moneyclaim issued 20/1/07 £225.50 full settlement received 29 January 2007

Smile £1,075.50 + interest Email request for payment 24/5/06 received £1,000.50 14/7/06 + £20 30/7/06

Yorkshire Bank Moneyclaim issued 21/6/06 £4,489.39 full settlement received 26 January 2007

:p

 

Advice & opinions given by Caro are personal, are not endorsed by Consumer Action Group or Bank Action Group, and are offered informally, without prejudice & without liability. Your decisions and actions are your own, and should you be in any doubt, you are advised to seek the opinion of a qualified professional.

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"Some information may not be given to you because it is exempt, for example because it would unfairly reveal personal details about somebody else."

Are you referring to the above sentence? As you can see, it says it would be exempt only if "personal details" about someone else would be revealed.

As per my previous reply, I am suggesting editing out those details so that the reason for the council's decision would be known while no one would be identified.

They may argue that's not always possible and refuse your request, but that's just because they probably do not want you to know how they allocate their properties and try and use an ambiguity to their advantage.

I would think that if someone is determined to get such information, they could put an argument forward that if the data is sufficiently edited, then there would be no risk of ever identifying anyone. But then, the council might just edit it to the point that it becomes useless.

Basically, they are nasty (and possibly corrupt) characters.

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I can't find anything about quotas in the Housing Allocation Scheme, nor any discretion to ignore priorities in the bidding process. If they told you that they have such an internal policy, it's unlawful.

By law (the Housing Act), they must follow their Housing Allocation Scheme, once it's framed.

I can't remember which section of the Housing Act (latest version) it is, but it's definitely in there.

So, if you can prove that they have not been following it, you can take them to court.

Each time you bid for a property (i.e., once a week, presumably) and they decide who to allocate the property to, their decision can be challenged in the courts.

If you are on benefits, you can get legal aid for it.

Cuts to legal aid for challenging Local Authority decisions have been reversed after the goverment were defeated in the High Court in march this year.

Choose a firm of solicitors with a Public Law contract (check the Legal Aid website) and ask them if they can help you. It will throw Housing Options staff into disarray and they deserve the headache.

If you lose, you won't have to pay their legal costs (if you are getting legal aid) but the council will have to pay yours if they lose.

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Housing Act 1996 (As Amended), Part VI, Section 167 (Allocation in accordance with allocation scheme)

(8)A local housing authority shall not allocate housing accommodation except in accordance with their allocation scheme.

You can read the whole section 167 on this page (towards the end): www(dot)legislation(dot)gov(dot)uk/ukpga/1996/52/part/VI

Housing Options seem to be quite happy to act unlawfully in probably everything they do, but they don't have to get away with it. The courts can sort them out.

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I cannot give any advice by PM - If you provide a link to your Thread then I will be happy to offer advice there.

I advise to the best of my ability, but I am not a qualified professional, benefits lawyer nor Welfare Rights Adviser.

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The Public Law Project could help too. They are a charity that challenges unlawful practices by central and local government affecting disadvantaged groups.

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Hello there.

 

I've flagged this for the site team for comments.

 

HB


Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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