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.

No one going to come and tell me to suck it up?

not looking for a fight, honest wink

What if I say they haven't paid me but I have a voucher for a goat and a 500" Plasma? wink

Suchabadperson Wed 03-Oct-12 14:45:28

They are jaded, underpaid and tired of being abused all day.

Can you get a crisis loan or advance?

Or sell the goat and swap the telly for fags.

Might swap the telly for crack money but then what will I watch Jezza on?

I'm waiting on them phoning me again but they said it could be up until tomorrow by 1pm, I don't believe that because the last time I had to phone back 3 times on the times I was meant to be called because they didn't bother.

Can't afford the repayments on a crisis loan, tax credits are being changed over as well to joint claim so don't have them either and because of that healthy start vouchers have stopped.

Total mess!

And I understand it's not a good job but really when they get things wrong they are playing with other peoples lives.

cece Wed 03-Oct-12 14:51:40

If they are lost in the post then surely it is royal mail you should be moaning about...

If you're in financial hardship, they should give you a crisis loan. You will need to contact them back regarding this. If will be repair from your benefit at a set amount each week/fortnight or once you get back into employment, recovered at a slightly higher amount

They may ask you some questions about what you have to pay for etc when making the decision. I once applied for one, and they gave me more than I requested as they decided we were in severe hardship at the time sad

Hope everything picks up for you soon

But they're not lost in the post because a few days ago they had all the details. The form they are telling me needs sent back before anything is done says on it that it needs to be back mid October.

It's the attitude that gets me.

Pretty I know, they suggested that but I am paying back a crisis loan and a budgeting loan and that already takes about £40 every 2 weeks. I simply can't afford it to be any less.

sad Big circle really, get the loan to help just now but it makes things harder in the end.

Suchabadperson Wed 03-Oct-12 14:55:33

That is a mess. Keep ringing if you can, maybe ask for the same person each time.

You could ask for a referral to a food bank/ sally army if you're stuck.

Scared to ring because they said they will ring back, haha. If I do they will just tell me that someone will contact me and they don't know anything. confused

Citizens advice said I need to go there and get a voucher for a food back, that takes a taxi there, then to food bank and back. I have some stuff in the freezer for the baby and I have enough to get bread, soup, some baby milk and I have spread in the cupboard. That will do for the moment.

Whoknowswhocares Wed 03-Oct-12 14:59:43

Fact is though, the minion you talked to really can't do anything can they?

and have probably had every kind of abuse all week, which they are not allowed to react to and have to sit there smiling at the vitriol sent there way

I'd rather they got arsey with the people spitting vitriol than the very polite woman in a bit of a crisis!

And no, they might not be able to help but the person who left a voicemail on the main family housephone with all the details of my claim could have (other family live here too and they know this).

Groovee Wed 03-Oct-12 15:02:19

They lost my wage slips for dh's claim. He watched the woman photocopy them and she said "I'll fax them after lunch!" Then 6 weeks later she still hadn't done it. By the time we got the letter with his claim being processed he was in signing off again confused

Had they told us they hadn't done it and needed the wage slips again we could have done it that morning as we were in the building who needed them

Groovee That's really crap and I think that's pretty similar to what's happening here.

I don't even know why they need DP's because he was on JSA when he worked the shifts and they already know all of the details. hmm He's only being added on to mines.

They also said they can't do anything until he closes his claim, he closed it 2 weeks ago and it still hasn't been closed!

Xnedra Wed 03-Oct-12 15:04:17

You should be able to get a foodbank referral from places other than CAB like the GP.

The GP is even further unfortunately. Hopefully when if someone calls back I should be able to sort something and wont need the food bank.

stopcallingmefrank Wed 03-Oct-12 15:12:50

They are probably not feeling cheery and happy when they talk to you. It's their job and they have been given instructions about how to speak to people on the phone. If they don't follow those instructions, they will get into trouble.

They may be pissed off that they have a crap job and there is nothing they can do. They may feel empathetic, but aren't allowed to show it. I read that someone who works in a job centre got disciplined for saying 'good luck' to a client who had a job interview.

Not that any of this helps your situation, I know.

That's pretty awful! Why would they get into trouble for saying good luck?

Madness!

stopcallingmefrank Wed 03-Oct-12 15:16:49

Breached some kind of guideline apparently. The union are fighting that one, but I agree it's madness.

That really is. So are they actually trained to not be nice to people? confused

I worked at the benefits office for 6 months years and years ago.
It was horrific.
The amount of abuse we used to get, people threatening us, it got to a point where I just expected everyone to be an arse before I even spoke to them. That's why I left.

And I know you don't want to hear it, and you are very rightly pissed off that no one is helping you, but the people you are speaking to can do absolutely nothing to help you. They just can't. It's frustrating, they probably want to help you but if their manager or whatever is saying no, we need this, we have lost that, yes it's being processed, now it isn't" that is literally the only info they can pass on to you.

I know you said you are paying back loans already and can't afford any deductions but IIRC they can only deduct one loan at a time from your benefits, unless this has changed which means you won't start paying back this one til the other has finished if that's any help at all.

No they're taking 3 from me just now!

It's just that the person who left the message said I could call them back if I had any questions, this was the person from the benefit delivery centre, they didn't leave a number so I called the contact centre who couldn't answer any questions!

It's maddeningly frustrating and I understand it's a hard job to do. It just seems though that some people enjoy it.

ClippedPhoenix Wed 03-Oct-12 15:24:27

I feel your pain OP.

It's because it's a crap system where the arse doesn't know what the elbow is doing.

I got a letter last year informing me that they'd overpaid my housing/coucil tax benefit for 3 YEARS!!!!! yes 3 YEARS and they were stopping payments to my housing trust forthwith until all the debt was paid.

They have had the SAME information every year from me. Do they use abacuses???

It's shit OP

And breathe Clipped, breathe.

Lol Clipped we can breathe together!

I just want all of this to be over, to be free of them but it's impossible. I could understand a couple of mistakes but they never seem to get anything right. You go through so many people that no one knows what each person is talking about!

Like you, my DGM got a letter through from HMRC saying she had underpaid by hundreds, that was a few months back. She then got another letter from them last week saying again she had underpaid by another few hundred!

ClippedPhoenix Wed 03-Oct-12 15:33:09

I got a debt collections letter a couple of years ago saying I owed £20 to their social loans fund from 10 years previous (I was on social for a year when son was a baby).

I'm being made redundant at the end of the year and I'm having heart palputations knowing I'm going to have to deal with them.

Will have to bring along a brown paper bag. grin

starfishmummy Wed 03-Oct-12 15:35:44

Scrodinger - there may be other places that can give you a voucher for the local food bank it you need it. Dare I say that the jobcentre should have a list of these places (and may be able to issue vouchers too).

Starfish I'm giving them to 5pm which is the latest they said I would get a call today otherwise tomorrow and if nothing by then I will phone them back and ask about the food bank.

Clipped That's ridiculous! shock They're taking a police fine from me from about 3 years. confused I don't believe I have recieved a fine from the police but no one will hear that! Have no idea how that has come across but it just seems less stressful to pay it.

YY to brown paper bag!

Does anyone know how to claim a hardship payment?

ClippedPhoenix Wed 03-Oct-12 15:50:48

I paid the ruddy thing too although I didn't owe it just to make them bugger off.

Basically what I am doing with this magical fine then!

'Tis madness.

I paid back tax credits the £790 I allegedly owed them. They then told me I didn't owe it and gave it back. Then wrote to me a month later saying I had been over paid by £910 and I had to pay that back.

Seriously!? That is a lot of money to play about with... See what I mean about everything they do is a mistake normally!

Viviennemary Wed 03-Oct-12 16:04:49

If you are being really messed about and they are being totally inefficient and unreasonable and not dealing with you properly then say you will be informing your MP.

MrsDimples Wed 03-Oct-12 16:07:01

I posted some paperwork, several times, each time they 'never received it'. Highly embarrassing having to go back time & time again to get the information again. Eventually I scrounged the money to send the paperwork recorded delivery. Had the online screen print of the signature & they were still denying receiving it.

It was very helpful when handing it over to the judge who clearly didn't believe the DWP were capable of anything other than honesty & effiency.

Cunts.

Really hope you get things sorted soon OP.

Vivienne That's a good idea but will that not just get their backs up?

Mrs Thanks, hope it will too. I am for some reason being optimistic. smile That is really pretty shit, how can they deny when you had sent it recorded delivery? The DWP should really complain about their organisation skills Royal mail, I don't think anyone in the world has so much mail "lost in the post". hmm

What amazes me is they can lose things in the post after acknowledging recieving them!! That's quite a skill.

littlemisssarcastic Wed 03-Oct-12 16:14:30

The DWP is totally incompetent. Not much help to you I'm afraid but I'm amazed they lose/misplace/make so many mistakes and yet still manage to actually function and process claims. They must spend unthinkable amounts of time chasing paperwork they have neglected to look after.
Sympathy OP. Hope you get it sorted soon.

BrittaPerry Wed 03-Oct-12 16:15:14

Another vote for MP. Mine sorted mine within 24 hours, AND i got an apology and £50 compensation (bit of an insult after the stress and hardship they had put us through for three months, but they did it unprompted)

Tax Credits are not paid by Jobcentre Plus
Neither is Housing Benefit.

OP, phone your Jobcentre and tell them you need to escalate this problem. That usually ensures a faster response.

All Jobcentre Plus benefits are processed from a centralised processing team, not the individual Jobcentre. It used to be the case I could go and see someone in the same office to sort out questions like this. Now we have to send queries via an online system. We can't even speak to them unless the customer is somehow vulnerable.

It stinks, but blame the Government who decided this was a good way to save money, not the poor, overworked, screamed at all day staff, please.

Empusa Wed 03-Oct-12 16:17:30

Have had far too many run ins with them. One time they "forgot" to pay us, so I rang them up, they admitted their mistake and said they'd ring me back. Few hours later they ring me back and say they'd sorted out, so I ask if I'm getting the money sent over, they say, "yes, it's on it's way to you now". At first I say thanks, then thought I'd just clarify whether it would be a cheque or straight into the account. Their response?
Them "Erm...well... I don't know"
Me "Could you find out?"
Them "Well the request hasn't been sent yet"
Me "The request? I thought you said it was on it's way?"
Them "No, it isn't, it needs to go through accounts first"
Me hmm

Bloody joke sad

But then they also claim the they didn't receive one form from us till 10 months later, despite one of their staff signing and dating it on the day we gave it to them. hmm

This is the problem already escalated! They still don't call back and everytime I call back they say well all they can do is escalate it again. hmm

Normally I would just blame the government but there has been so many mistakes and being told everything is fine for it not to be or that something has been done that hasn't, I think some of the staff have to take at least some of the blaim.

And leaving a message on the answerphone when they knew there would be no way for me to get in touch with them to discuss it is just crap, they had told me they would try 3 times to call before they do that. The message was left when I took a phone call that lasted less than a minute!

Last time when they said they would call, I called back after the latest time and they said it had been put down as "call cleared" and that someone had contacted me which was a complete lie.

WholeLottaRosie Wed 03-Oct-12 16:22:23

I used to work there. Abuse all day, every day, sworn at, spat at, threatened. It's really hard to stay positive when you are getting that much shite directed at you.

I smiled at every claimant and greeted them good morning/ afternoon. If I smiled too much I got "Wipe that fucking grin off your face or I'll wipe it off for you".
Next claimant "Cheer up you miserable cow"

Oh and I got paid less for working there than some people were getting in benefits.

Re post going missing - at our office the post-room workers were employed by Group 4, they were the ones signing for post not the BA staff.

Empusa That's what happened the first time I called today!! They said it would be in by 4:30.

2 mins, on phone to them.

Naoko Wed 03-Oct-12 16:25:22

I feel for you OP because the system is godawful and I've been there, the DWP as an institution can't find its arse with its elbows. However they're a large employer round where I live and I have several friends who work there (because unemployment here is sky high and they need the money). Every single one of them hates it. The money's crap, the job's crap, staff morale is sub zero, management seems to exist to make callcenter staff miserable, policy is insane and in some cases against the law (you'd think if anyone could get employment law right it'd be the DWP, but you'd be wrong), staff turnover is sky high. When the people on the phone say they can't help you, they mean it. Policy is insane and there is literally nothing they can do. My friends hate it. Complaining to an MP will not get their backs up, the people I know who work there would be happy that you did, because they you to be ok, they just have no way to make it happen - and they all despise the DWP as an institution and love it when someone like an MP cuts through the crap.

Surely when I phone and am really nice to them that should cheer them up a but then!

Sorry about that badly written short message, am still on phone.

Oh, I love that man I have just spoken to!

He spoke to his Team Leader and came back and said they were confused because they are saying they have lost a form after they have said they have recieved it! Has told me to point it out tomorrow when they phone as "someone" has made a mistake as they definitely got it!

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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