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Help, problems with housing benefit!


kernowlife
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Well, it seems I am having to face the onslaught that is known as signing on again.

 

After the last debacle, I did what I vowed I would never do and went back on the lorrys. Back came the increased tiredness and stomach issues that went with it.

 

Anyways, I have now accumulated too many points on my licence (very long story) and tomorrow I have to sign on again.

 

At least it is a different jobcentre in a different town. (having to move to cheaper accommodation)

 

Has anyone on here had any dealings with Bolton Jobcentre? What are they like?

 

I already have a plan worked out since any job will require retraining for me. Have provisionally set up fork lift training through the learn direct scheme (have to do IT training first to get the funding. All I need is the jobcentre letter telling me I am getting paid then I can get the ball rolling)

 

I've spent most of the morning trawling the forums and have saved some info and printed out some other items.

 

I'm also not taking the risk of last time and have been out and bought a Dictaphone this morning as I intend to record all appointments.

 

Wish me luck tomorrow

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Can't speak for the Bolton Jobcentre but I too have had sign on again after a short break and to be honest it's no different to before. The only thing that's changed is that I've now had to setup a UJM account and fulfill a claimaint commitment. I find that if you show a fat jobsearch diary (about three pages), they don't harass you. My advice to apply for as many jobs as you can and put them down, even if they aren't really suitable as the odds are you won't get them anyway and the advisor can tick their boxes. Also put down that you look in the loca paper, contact agencies, ask friends and send spec letters. The jobcentre are looking to sanction as many as possible so do all you can to prevent them. Good luck and hopefully you can find a job soon enough.

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Totally agree. Get in first! Have plenty of paperwork to show them, with details (my JC are very big on details like dates applied, etc), cover all the angles and you might get a slightly easier ride - hopefully you'll get a half-decent adviser too, that can make a big difference.

 

Reed.co.uk and CV-Library.co.uk are great sites for providing proof of applications - though I doubt many actually get jobs from them. Your applications are all logged (one click to apply so it's no bother at all to rack up quite a few) and you just screen print the fortnight's list. They're all nicely detailed and dated. Saves you writing them all down and the JC advisers can't find fault with it at all - they tend to pick on the people with tatty scribbled notes and not much info written down.

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Agree with jasta11 - CVL and REED - I use them now as I am demotivated due to constant let downs and jobs basically being fake - I even use the same stored covering letter for all jobs as (a) most do not exist (b) I don't want the job they advertise anyway and © I have not know ONE SINGLE PERSON to get anywhere with these sites with regards to empoyment - you just have to play the JCP game and do enough to get by and get your pittance from them.

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Well its early days but it seems like I might have a decent adviser. She started about must use UJM and giving access, but soon changed to its our preferred way but we can't mandate you when the look of doubt crossed my face.

 

I was even advised that if I had an appointment outside of my signing day (like when I go and see the careers service) to not only bring my bus ticket in, but to get a day rider ticket which will be reimbursed.

 

I didn't even need to bring any of my printed sheets out this time......so they will stay in the folder for another time.

the Dictaphone fitted nicely into my top pocket out of sight, just got to transfer the file across to the lappy then I can keep all my conversations safe. (will prob put them on an external hard drive)

 

Got to go back tomorrow for my first signing day....not a problem since I will be moving tomorrow so over that way anyway.

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Getting a decent adviser is half the battle, and so is asserting yourself - politely but very firmly - from day 1. Read up on the guidance, read the threads on this site and use it against them if they get out of line - as they no doubt will!

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  • 1 month later...

Hi all, got a real issue with my housing benefit claim.

 

I've got an overpayment from my previous claim which was in another council area. My new claim has finally been sorted out. It is for a bedsit (shared facilities) and I get approx £46.40 towards my £60 rent. (weekly)

I have now had an email from the old council saying they are requesting £18.25 per week deduction from my new claim.

 

If they do, I will not be able to pay my rent anymore and I will end up homeless. (I would be paying almost half of my fortnightly jobseekers just on rent)

 

I have no objection to paying, its just the amount.

 

What can I do? Is there anything I can do?

 

Or am I stuck with this figure.

The percentage of payback to hb seems excessivly high to hb

 

>edit...I've just calculated that it is approx 39.4% of my housing benefit figure

Edited by kernowlife
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Have you spoken to anyone at the council to explain the situation ?

 

You might want to try and contact someone at your local Citizen Advice Bureau to see if they can help.

 

Meanwhile, I will try and find someone to help you .. :)

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How much is the overpayment and how long would it take to pay back at that rate?

 

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How much is the overpayment and how long would it take to pay back at that rate?

 

The council are claiming about £1500. At that rate it would take between 18 months to 2 years to pay off.

 

However there is no way I could afford £32 a week top up rent so my hb claim would not last that long.

 

I rekon between 4 & 6 months before I'm booted out

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Can you account for the overpayment, what you did with the money?

 

If you notice the word 'overpayment' is bold and underlined in all the posts it appears in. Click on the word and you will be linked to a previous thread that might be worth your while studying.

If that link doesn't work for you try:

http://www.consumeractiongroup.co.uk/forum/legalities/2763-estoppel.html

 

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Is it really possible to obtain deductions from the benefits given by another council?

I wonder ....

 

I would certainly start off a formal complaint to the old council and tell them that you want to put the issue before the local authority ombudsman. Do this immediately

If the new council agree to make the deductions then I would do the same with them as well.

 

If the old council sues you then I would suggest pleading an estoppel

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Yes, the overpayment did occur. I made an error of judgement due to debts owed after the marriage break up.

 

I'm not proud of what I did but it seems everytime I try and sort myself out, I end up even deeper in the brown smelly stuff.

 

When I get advice from experts (not on here I might add, but step change) to make payments with money I don't actually have, its not helpful.

 

Its not the fact the money has to be paid that I have an issue with, but the level of repayments at a time when I am struggling.

 

I have sent an email to the council suggesting that £5 per week would be a more realistic amount that, although it would be a struggle, I would just about be able to afford.

 

I have only literally had the email today telling me that is what is being requested. I have yet to hear from my current council what they are going to deduct. It may well be less based on the fact I get a smaller amount of hb.

 

My experience with CAB has been that they are so busy, the problem is out of hand before you even get an appointment. That said I don't intend to rule them out.

 

I'm just very worried about being evicted from here through not being able to afford the rent here (and I won't find anything cheaper)

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As you admit that it was an error of judgment - that rules out an defence based upon an estoppel.

 

I suggest that you star off the complaint as I have suggested - that will make them start paying attention to you. Also, you should start repaying what you can afford from now. This means that you make regular payments - even before they agree it. It is essential that you show willing - and also it will help to reduce the debt.

 

Presumably you have some kind of payment book or a bank account number and reference? Start paying £5 per week and don't miss a payment. Write to the council and tell that this is what you are doing. If they refuse to accept the payments then include this in your complaint to the local authority ombudsman. They are not entitled to prevent you from reducing the debt.

 

Make sure that everything is in writing - no phone calls

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I don't have any references or account numbers to start making payments.

 

Also, in an attempt to buy myself some more time, I have already defaulted on a payment offer.

 

I have a whole host of issues including 5 council tax bills with bailiffs and a court fine also at the bailiffs. I'm also expecting more hassle from the CSA soon.

 

I'm a classic case of burying my head in the sand and am now in so deep I can't see a way out.

 

I've also lost my job recently due to too many points on my license (hence the fine) and can't get a other job until 3 points come off in September.

 

I have no experience or qualifications in anything other than driving.

 

I really don't know what to do

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The problem with giving the standard advice for dealing with debts is that there is a major difference between debts to companies and debts owed to government agencies. The key thing is that benefit overpayments can be collected from future benefit payments without the need for a court order and yes, one council can ask another council (or the DWP, for that matter) to collect an op in that way.

 

I second the advice to contact CAB for help. What you need to do is speak to the first council and ask them to consider taking a lower amount from your HB. It might also be worth speaking to your current council about this also, as if you do become homeless that will be their problem to deal with. CAB should be able to help with these conversations.

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Following email communication it seems that the old council are digging their heels in and are refusing to lower the amount they are going to take. The offer of £5 per week has been flatly refused.

 

I have heard nothing from the current council to date which means I can't really start any dialogue with them yet.

 

I'm guessing that I have to be officially notified prior to any deductions being made

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They are a pain, they over paid me the same amount as you years back, & refused to take less than £100 a month, & my over payment was THEIR error of judgement. I took a loan out with repayments at £35 a month & paid it off in one go. Because £35 a month was easier than £100. Although I obviously ended up with interest on it.

Apparently I should have gone to CAB & they would have negotiated with them on my behalf. Did you try that?

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Still waiting to hear from my current council.

 

I really lost it with the old council last week. When I argued over affordability she kept coming back with "I can do this....its a fraud case!!"

 

That's when I lost it and pointed out that I was never convicted or even charged with fraud. The council agreed I made a simple error.

 

I suggested she be a bit careful in throwing "fraud" at me or she would be on the end of legal action against herself.

 

I've not heard from her since

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Send in a letter setting out what your income and outgoings are so that they can see that you genuinely can't afford to pay it at that rate.

 

Was the overpayment calculated following a fraud investigation? Were you interviewed under caution? The deduction rates are higher then.

Please do not ask me for advice via PM as I will not reply.

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The overpayment was calculated after a fraud investigation and taped interview under caution. However it was decided that it was an error caused by my lack of understanding of the system and not fraud.

 

I have already stated my income and outgoings and explained that the amount is unaffordable, but this woman from the council just comes back with "its a fraud case so we can do this."

 

Even when I point out that after a few weeks, my rent arrears will mean I am evicted (arrears caused by this deduction)and there will then be no benefits to deduct from and still the majority of the outstanding overpayment.

 

"doesn't matter,its a fraud case...we are doing this!!"

 

Its like banging my head against a brick wall.

 

Still no word from my current council.

 

They are not going to deduct without informing me are they?

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I'd suggest contacting your local councillor, or failing that, your MP - There should always be a degree of flexibility when dealing with people finding themselves in a difficult financial position (my opinion). Demanding unreasonable repayments and/or imposing excessive charges just makes a bad situation worse.

 

If your councillor/MP won't help, there is always the Local Government Ombudsman.

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I'd suggest contacting your local councillor, or failing that, your MP - There should always be a degree of flexibility when dealing with people finding themselves in a difficult financial position (my opinion). Demanding unreasonable repayments and/or imposing excessive charges just makes a bad situation worse.

 

If your councillor/MP won't help, there is always the Local Government Ombudsman.

 

 

I agree... The council I work for will look at the deduction rate if it's causing hardship - but they do insist on a completed means enquiry form first.

 

Think the "fraud" recovery rate is Unrealistically high and will only cause further problems. A large proportion of fraud overpayments arise from the acts of people desperate in the first place

Please do not ask me for advice via PM as I will not reply.

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