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Anyone else had problems with claiming travel expenses to medical appointments since UC came in?


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It's obvious that the government is making it so difficult with benefits they are hoping that everyone will just give up claiming but I didn't know whether to laugh, cry or head butt the wall with this situation and just wondering if anyone has had similar problems because apparently the people in front and behind me in the cashiers queue had the same issue!!


Had a medical appointment in London yesterday for my ongoing vertigo issue and am on UC at the moment (although haven't received anything as yet due to my last pay packet back in July!). However I can't remember where but someone told me as I am on UC I could claim back my travel expenses.


The UC helpline (term used loosely) advised me that I could claim through the JCP but on contacting my Work Coach (again term used loosely) she advised me I couldn't claim through them but I could claim direct with the NHS.


I called the NHS and that was correct but I had to take my proof of purchase, appointment letter and UC Reward Letter to the cashier at the hospital. Obviously I know unlike JSA where you get a letter stating you are receiving JSA you don't get the same thing with UC because the Council were complaining about that when I claimed Council Tax Benefit and the girl at the Council said it was all a bit of a shambles.


So I called the UC helpline again and after half an hour trying to explain to an automated message that all I wanted was advice from and advisor I finally got through. The advisor told me that the statement on the dashboard was all I needed although all 4 pages of it seemed excessive and somewhat personal considering it states that I was awarded a massive UC total of £0 due to my wage the previous month of £xyz!!


Queued for 25 minutes at the cashier’s desk at the hospital with all the documents and finally when I got to the window she wouldn't approve it stating that she needed a JSA Award Letter. I politely explained that in my part of the country and more than likely most of it by now including London there is no such thing as JSA and award letters anymore, (I may be wrong) and that the UC Office had said this statement would suffice. She wasn't for turning though and kept pointing to a clearly out of date note on the wall stating a JSA Award letter was required. I tried my best to keep calm and explained again that all is done online now and this is it, all I can offer. Eventually she took my number and said her supervisor would ring on Monday but keep my train tickets, which is fortunate I got a receipt because the machine eats the tickets once used!! As I left the guy behind said "Well we are buggered as well then" as he held up his UC Statement print out.


When I got home I called the UC Helpline but was told they didn't deal with travel and I had to speak to my work coach and could only offer me an appointment next Wednesday!! I asked for a phone appointment because it seems a bit pointless taking up a walk in just for one question! I said that the previous UC advisor had informed me that a UC Statement would be ok but was curtly told that the UC advisor couldn't advise on that so didn't know why they had!


I then rang the number for my Job Centre and went through merely to a switchboard who told me that my JCP was closed on Fridays. So we search for work for 35 hours a week and they work 4 days?!?! She however told me that the JCP can't help on that so I should contact UC Helpline!! I replied that the UC Helpline say they don't deal with that the JCP does and she said they didn't know why they advised me of that as they were wrong. After telling her I suspect she may be getting a few more calls from others with the same query I gave up at that point!!!


So has anyone had any luck with claiming expenses of any kind with merely a UC Statement?! It seems impossible. The hospital say they need a letter that doesn't exist anymore, UC say it's down to the JCP to advise and the JCP say it's down to UC credit to advise. A system clearly created by a buffoon with no brain, sense or intelligence!!

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UC does not issue any letter stating any entitlement, to be used in obtaining any help from other Government agencies. Other benefits ( JSA, ESA) have a start date, you get a letter stating you are entitled from x date and the benefit continues until you get a letter stating it has bern closed. UC cannot operate in that way, because UC is an in work and out of work benefit. It replaces, income related JSA, Income related ESA, Tax Credits, Child Tax Credits, Income Support and Housing Benefit.


In reality, UC is a one month at a time benefit, with each monthly assessment period statement showing entltlement for that one month. One assessment period you might have entitlement to help from other Government agencies because you had no income or it was below threshold and the next month no entitlement to any help because of income level.


It is my understanding that Government have provided full information to NHS and other Government agencies explaning how UC works. But the NHS and Councils have not all ensured that their staff fully understand UC so they know how to handle the issues you faced. In areas where UC has has been running for over a year, NHS etc have finally understood UC. In areas where UC is fairly new, then I expect that NHS and Council staff will not all have the knowledge required.

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It's apparently both endemic and random so......


Have a read of this and also have a look at the links in post #5




Best suggestion would be to write to the hospital/NHS Trust and lodge a complaint. Explain this issues and what you require off them to solve it.


I'd also cc that to you local MP to make them aware of what is an endemic and growing issue between the NHS & UC with regard to all NHS costs and ask for their help in resolving your personal issue and making Parliament aware.

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Yep Dixi, I read that. Yet another fabulous example of the departments in this country making more work for themselves as well as everyone else rather than covering all bases before they bring a new idea in!! It's clearly one of two things. Either massive incompetence on all levels of Government and the NHS or it's all deliberate and another example of making the system so bloody irritating for those in need that they just end up not bothering thus stopping large swathes of people complaining. I'd like to believe the incompetence option but having seen at first hand the underhand and criminal tactics used by the government in other areas of the benefits system I'm pretty sure the incompetence is a smokescreen.

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Well the Hospital Cashier called me today and apologised that she had got it wrong last week and her supervisor had advised her that she could have accepted my UC statement. I was however not advised to collect an attendance form from the department but they will send one via post, and I can claim my travel when I go up next time, along with the travel for that day I suspect!! so to be fair the NHS have done their bit bar maybe training their staff a tad better and I got an apology which is more that you will get from the DWP!! My only worry is that her last words were that again she was sorry and next time she will accept my UC Award letter!! Hopefully a slip of the tongue or maybe I'll be ranting and raving again in a months time!!

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So in the event that a claimant does not have internet access or own a capable device, then what,? the internet should not be relied upon



I agree, everyone should at least get a letter saying you have been awarded UC and have a tick box on how you would like to proceed eg online or via paper communication.



It is the same with other departments like Council Tax Benefit who used to ask for an Award Letter but fortunately on this occasion I had an advisor who seemed up to speed on the changes.



I personally think part of the problem is a screenshot or print out from the UC site doesn't look official. Anyone could create something like that in a word document, it looks too basic.



I'm having further problems with the DWP. I have received some casual paid work but it's only once or twice a week and the DWP want me to complete the "change in circumstances" tab. Upon opening the tab I noticed there would be questions about earnings. Once again technology is the issue. My casual boss wants people to insert their hours on a phone app but my phone is so old it wouldn't be able to download an abacus!! He said he would get me a pay as you go work phone and in the meantime I can and have done it via my PC although whether this has gone through correctly I don't know. So I don't know if any pay will go through in September or October. So I don't want to state in my change of circumstances that I am receiving say £100 at the end of September when it may well only go through at the end of October but get reduced UC in September!!



I have messaged the JCP Work Coach to ask someone to call me to advise but as yet haven't received a call.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Well I went up to London again today for a follow up appointment at the hospital and all was sorted re travel expenses of which I managed to claim back September's expenses and todays.


However I am staggered at the wastage that's going on. For starters my follow up took 5 minutes, literally in and out. It took me an hour and a half to get there, an hour and a half home and a peak time rail return to claim due to the appointment being at 9.45 am.


Why on earth can't appointments like this just be done over the phone? It would have taken 5 minutes and I wouldn't have had to go up to London and claim back expenses from the NHS??! Even take it further and possibly limit early morning and late afternoon appointments to local residents only so no patient has to travel to or from in peak time thus requiring the most expensive prices of travel. It's quite shocking that this wastage is happening, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to work out that a phone call for a non important follow up is all that is needed,. If I had known it was going to be that quick I would have suggested it!!!!!

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