People who work at the benefits office.

(70 Posts)

Why is it okay to leave a family without a penny because they lose stuff in the post or say everything is fine and going through when clearly it's not?

Phoned up the other day to make sure everything was fine with my payment as it didn't go through the last time, was told everything was fine and going through.

Today, nothing. I phone them and get a message on my answerphone saying they seem to have lost something in the mail and "I know it's an inconvenience but we will have to send the form again and get you to send your partners wage slips with it". angry This form, we got a couple of days ago and it says that money will be affected if it isn't sent back by x date in October, nearer the end of the month!

Phoned back and was told there is nothing they can do. angry

Why is this okay? And why is it so hard to get in contact with someone who knows what is going on?

Probably will get flamed for this and told to get a job and that I'm a scrounger but right now I couldn't give a hell!

What really gets me is they sound so bloody cheery and happy while telling you that there's nothing they can do and you'll just have to make do with nothing. What the hell!? Surely they have a bit of bloody empathy, or do these people not have famillies they can familiarise the situation with?

Rant over.

Crinkle77 Wed 03-Oct-12 16:57:23

My boyfriend had a similar experience. had worked for a number of years and was made redundant. They cocked up his claim and his payments were delayed

nailak Wed 03-Oct-12 17:12:01

they lost myhusbands wage slips and say we owe them 17k.

beat that.

Viviennemary Wed 03-Oct-12 17:17:09

They take complaints from MP's very seriously. But I know that takes time because you have to contact your MP and then they have to write to them. Also I don't think I would send them any very important documents. You can go along to your job centre and have them faxed through to the relevant department. At least you could do this a couple of years or so ago.

Yes we still fax documents. Always ask for them to be photocopied too (so you still have the original information).

www.theyworkforyou.com is super speedy, should you wish to contact your MP wink

Please do. It's the only way anything will change.

Nailak Fucking hell! shock I don't think many people will be able to beat that!

After my last call to them they called back and have resumed it for the moment, checked my bank and it's in already! Thank God for that. smile

Thanks for the info about the photocopying, that's a better idea I think.

maddening Wed 03-Oct-12 19:02:04

I just don't get why they can't do more over the internet? You could download a form and attach copies of documents and then it's there without faff and loss in post incidents

Glad you have been paid OP. smile

SheppySheepdog Wed 03-Oct-12 19:21:03

I used to work for the local authority in a parallel role. The money was decent and my team were lovely but the people I dealt with all day were simply unbelievable.

Every second client would tell you they had already provided the paperwork when they hadn't. Nobody claiming bothered to even try to understand the system. MPs would call in only to hear that the problem was actually with the client (and that this had been explained to the client several times) and quietly go away to explain to them once more.

People did not know who was paying them half of the time. I was often told I (personally) hadn't paid someone's giro and asked what I was going to do about it. grin Um... Call the job centre perhaps? A colleague had a knife pulled on her, people would regularly fight, take drugs and wet themselves drunk in the waiting area, it was pretty grim.

But the jobcentre were difficult to deal with even way back when. I think they had it a lot worse than us too.

SheppySheepdog Wed 03-Oct-12 19:23:10

That's an unfair picture, obviously not everyone was like that, far from it in fact but that job was hard, hard going!

nailak Wed 03-Oct-12 19:28:46

why do people have to figure out the system though?

I know once they changes my rent from £120 to £60, I had two rooms in a shared house, I asked them why?,
they said (they being council service office) the rent officer had decided
I said how?
they said they didnt know?
I asked is it based on area etc, as one room in my area is defo more then £30, they said they make a decision,
I said can i speak to them?
no
so they just sit in a room and make a secret decision
stop being abusive
(I had a 3 month baby, as well as toddler, and was in tears by this point)

The police are in my workplace at least 3-4 times a week due to "incidents".

One of my "incidents " was so bad I had to be off work for 4 months.

SheppySheepdog Wed 03-Oct-12 19:43:32

Rent officers were about in my time! They weren't attached to the council at all, came from the valuation office so you wouldn't have been able to speak to them at the council offices, different body entirely and we didn't have much to do with them aside from this and council tax banding etc, the most they could have offered you was the contact details. It would have been to do with typical area, average property values, size of property, all sorts of stuff. This is kind of what I meant, we copped the blame for everyone because people didn't know any different and that was frustrating.

They did accept appeals but within very strict time limits and their word was usually God until they needed to value the property again so the person you spoke to probably wasn't being deliberately obstructive, if it helps although I can appreciate your situation. We don't use rent officers in my borough anymore..

nailak Wed 03-Oct-12 20:04:33

yes but when I asked to understand the system, I didnt get any meaningful replies.

She didnt explain any of what you just did, she got the security guard to come and kick me out.

So how can we understand the system? How are people supposed to "try and understand the system".
One would assume if it was to do with housing benefits you would go to the office that sorts out housing benefit?

MoomieAndFreddie Wed 03-Oct-12 20:20:51

IME they are usually jobsworths who treat claimants like shit on their shoes, sorry to hear you are having to deal with them schro, hope you get sorted soonest

SheppySheepdog Wed 03-Oct-12 20:33:24

It just strikes me that before you go in guns blazing, you usually make sure you are sure of the facts. It'd be like me ringing up HR and blowing a gasket when HMRC had messed up my tax code or something. They'd sympathise but couldn't really do anything and I'd look a bit foolish and hang up feeling juat as frustrated.

There's usually a section on any forms you fill in explaining the benefit in straightforward terms plus award letters / decision notices by law have to have a breakdown of calculations. If you're not sure, ask and if you get the office idiot, ask someone else until you are satisfied with the answer.

I think people should get a basic understanding of the system for the same reasons you make sure your payslip makes sense at the end of the month. I'd want to know who was paying me, how much and why because the obligation is also on me, not just the benefits office, to make sure my claim is running correctly because if it isn't, I'm the one who will be missing out on money I'm entitled to in the short term or having to repay an overpayment.

The system could do with being a hell of a lot simpler though I will definitely admit. Fingers crossed this Universal Credit malarkey might help but I'm not holding my breath... grin

Moomie Thankfully I got it sorted (at least for the moment). 2 of the people I spoke to in the end actually turned out to be quite nice, I don't think so badly of the lot of them now but I do think some really do enjoy feeling like they are on a power trip!

Also agree most of the time they do nothing to make understanding how everything is working easy, mainly because everyone you speak to has a different story of what has gone on and what that means.

nailak Wed 03-Oct-12 21:41:42

so if the letter says the rent officer has said such and such, and you go to the office you are getting the money from and they say you cant contact rent officer?

there is no use having a breakdown of calculations when you dont know how the amounts are calculated.

the problem is the whole office, seems to be full of idiots, and not just one, i went to a few different local service centres and got same answers.

If you rang up HR they would say, you got wrong tax code this is who you need to call to sort it out, this happens in such and such situations.

They wouldnt say, I dont know, you cant call the person etc.

mumnotmachine Wed 03-Oct-12 22:02:31

The referral system isnt the best, but every call has to be responded to within 3 hours.

Yes its frustrating trying to get through and speaking to several different people.

Its not much fun working there either...

I've never been responded to in 3 hours, I always have to call back to be told it is being sent through again and will be another 3 hours. This goes on until the end of the day where they tell me it will be between 9am and 1pm the next day.

Apart from today actually, I only had to phone back once today.

Can't imagine it is much fun but I do think at least some of the hostility from clients is the awful system that leaves them feeling helpless.

SheppySheepdog Wed 03-Oct-12 22:26:04

Nailak"I don't know" was certianly not an acceptable answer to your question. If he/she didn't know, they should have found out or signposted you to someone who did know. That was rubbish service!

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