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District Council Help and Housing Benefit


tezza1234
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Hi all i need a bit of advice and help please, Basically i am self employed and due to low income in receipt of Housing Benefit which is paid to me by my District Council and then paid by me to my Housing Association. Every few months the DC ask me for certain income information to prove i am still eligible for HB, i always provide and eventually it is fine, although they usually manage to balls something up, and that is where we are at again, In October they asked me to fill out some paperwork and provide proofs, which i did, i then drove the 10+ miles to their offices and handed in over counter, getting a receipt, 3 weeks later (benefit still been paid during this time) i get a letter saying they have suspended my benefit due to not receiving most of the requested paperwork, which they did, i have a receipt for it :/

 

So of i go again the 10+ miles to council offices and get to speak to a generic benefits adviser, i am not allowed to speak to the actual adviser dealing with my claim (the person sending me the letters) as they 'do not deal with the public' the generic adviser basically makes excuses as to why the DC are incompetent with no apology, basically passing the buck blaming everyone and anyone, so we re-check everything and then she flops out a form she says i have to fill in, it was about 30 pages long, it is clear she wanted me to go away and bring it back another day, but i wanted it sorted and done, So i had to do sitting in a public area on my knee on a chair, you would think they would have said 'its ok use this table to lean on' but nope, anyway, form done, all checked, and confirmed and re-issued another receipt stating they have again received all documents.

 

Well..... that was weeks ago and ive not heard a peep since and not received any housing benefit, now my Landlord (housing association) are asking why the rent has not been paid for x weeks as the balance is now rather high.

 

I have tried calling DC to ask for a update to which all i get is, its being processed, wait to hear. I have waited, weeks and weeks, I feel like they are on the 'go slow' on purpose just because i moaned they are incompetent, which they are, my next step is another visit to the offices (tomorrow) to try and force a answer and if nothing prevails their a official complaint against the DC, which is a multi tier process which could take months.

 

Where do i stand with regards to rent owing to HA, can they issue repossession proceedings. Am i doing everything right in how i am dealing with DC.

 

Not the kind of stress i need on the run up to xmas

 

thanks all

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IMO I would say that you're doing everything you possibly could be expected to do in order to sort this situation.

 

However, the only thing you aren't doing is making that complaint soon enough!

 

When you go tomorrow, ensure they get sight of you asking and noting the names of all you deal with, including the name of the departments manager, ensure you tell them that it is unacceptable to wait so long for what should be a relatively minor decision, so much so, that you know have your landlord demanding to know answers with the threat of eviction hanging over you, won't look good in the local and national rag now!

 

Which DC is this?

 

The sooner you start an official complaint the sooner you're able to escalate the matter beyond the DC's control, they aren't best pleased having to eal with the Local Govt Ombudsman http://www.lgo.org.uk/making-a-complaint

 

Always try and keep everything in writing, that way then you have a paper trail of evidence if needed.

Keep a diary of events also.

 

Talking and dealing with your LA is like banging your head against a brick wall sometimes.......although there are times when they go above and beyond, and when they do I will always write a letter of thanks, but when they don't, they know they're in for a rough rde.

 

When you email the DC, it might be an idea to CC in your local councillors, so they can see how bad their LA is being run, and maybe apply some pressure in the right places. This is also true of keeping your local MP informed, it all helps, and if the LA is aware that others have sight of the goings on, they are more likely to deal with it professionally and expediently.

Who ever heard of someone getting a job at the Jobcentre? The unemployed are sent there as penance for their sins, not to help them find work!

 

 

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Hiya, thank you for the advice, Do i have to say which DC this is, i don't want to be identified if they happen to browse this site. Yes i have looked up the complaints procedure in at looks like i have to follow a 3 step process before i can go to the ombudsmen, that alone will take 2-3 months, i guess i am worried that if i start a complaint then they will slow down further, it does seem to me they can be very very vindictive, rude, arrogant ect....

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You don't have to identify the DC if you don't want to - though if they've got staff browsing this forum trying to see who's complaining about them then they seriously need to get their priorities sorted.

 

Once it gets to the stage of a complaint, involving councillors and MPs etc., the DC would be extremely foolish if they were to retaliate by making your life even more difficult. They're not a private company, they're accountable to us and they spend tax money.

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What worries me more than anything is what should be simple decisions are being made wrongly (for whatever reason) by people who have no face, people you can't talk too, people who hide behind a computer desk, so far this has put my rent £500+ in to arrears and it could go to 3-4 x that before it is resolved, if the HA wait that long for payment

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When you go tomorrow, ensure they get sight of you asking and noting the names of all you deal with, including the name of the departments manager.

 

Also record any/all conversations - They tend to be a little more respectful if they suspect they are being recorded. If an objection is raised (they might bandy about Data Protection & Human Rights), slip your phone/recorder in a top pocket, but do not turn it off.

 

As a private individual, you have the right to record conversations with public officials for your own personal records. The Data Protection Act allows this, and "Human Rights" legislation does not apply.

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UPDATE

 

Ok so just back from visit to DC, i did try to record everything but it hasn't come out that clear, was told by generic adviser that my claim was processed today and apparently all has been re-instated as was before, i should get a letter in the next couple of days and backdated HB which is owed, Of course i should be happy, but me being cynical will wait for the actual letter to arrive and HB to hit account before counting chickens, after all, generic adviser could have just told me any waffle to get me to go away, no they wouldn't, would they, will keep all updated in coming days.

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What worries me more than anything is what should be simple decisions are being made wrongly (for whatever reason) by people who have no face, people you can't talk too, people who hide behind a computer desk, so far this has put my rent £500+ in to arrears and it could go to 3-4 x that before it is resolved, if the HA wait that long for payment

It's possible that the assessors work in remote centre, very likely if your LA contract out HB.

It's also possible that your council has the assessors working uninterrupted on claims to allow them to crack on- even more likely if you are a complex self employed case.

 

Glad you got it sorted and can now not worry

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

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Hi tezza1234

 

Completely understanderable to be cautious with this but please dont sit on this remember how many times they have asked for the same evidence and given you a receipt for I would still think of making a Formal Complaint (look on their website for their Customer Care Standards).

 

Please also keep the HA updated on what you have been informed and will provide them with a copy of the letter on receipt of it for DC. (helps you with the HA as you are keeping them informed)

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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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