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How do you register a complaint about a benefits compliance officer?

(10 Posts)
MissingMySleep Thu 13-Oct-11 10:29:48

Hi I wonder if someone can point me in the right direction. My friend ishaving a really hard time just now, so I would like to do the research for her.

Sorry in advance, this is a long post. I hope I have put it in the right section.

She is a single parent with 3 children at home, 2 infant school children who have some mild congenital problems, and a teenager that is statemented with something that makes him violent aggressive and out of control (I have no idea what it is called). The teenager is in trouble with the police, school etc constantly and dealing with him has brought my friend to a very very low place.

Her ex has the children ever other weekend. He can't accommodate them in his rented place, which is about 60/80 miles away from them. So he has the kids at her house when its his turn (every other weekend). Lately he has been coming down and staying over some of "her" weekends, because she cannot cope, she has been suicidal, and so he has come down to support her, to assist with the troublesome teen. He does not contribute to the running of the house. They are not a couple. They do get on and have wondered if they might get back together in the future, but right now he pays his rent elsewhere and is visiting often at the moment to assist with this statemented child.

A lovely neighbour has reported her for benefit fraud, advising that he works away but lives with my friend the rest of the time.

My friend has visited a compliance officer to answer the questions they had. Fair enough. The officer wrote down what she thought, and my friend (and her mother, who attended the interview with her for moral support) corrected the compliance officer when she was incorrect, and the officer amended the document she was writing out, and read back the agreed comments, as they went through all the details.

At the end my friend was asked to sign the document to confirm that she agreed with the details. As they had gone through the painstaking task of agreeing each sentence and the lady had read back each sentence, she signed without reading it.

You have guessed what's coming, right?

When she got home, my friend realised that the compliance officer had not made some of the agreed changes. She had read out the agreed phrase/sentence etc but not written it down. My friend rang the compliance officer who said tough I can't change it now, you will just have to appeal.

I do believe my friend should complain about this lady, who been rude, aggressive, told my friend that everything she said is a pack of lies (rather than checking with the school/police and actually gathering the evidence that would show my friend to be truthful), and now effectively tricked her into signing something inaccurate. Yes I know she should have re-read it but she really is in a very vulnerable state right now and not on top of her game.

A great example is when my friend told the officer that her ex had come to support her as she had been suicidal, the compliance officer said "well you look alright to me". My friend asked her to speak to her GP who would be able to confirm details, and the officer advised that wouldn't, and that she didn't need to do that. I find this astounding.

Please can someone advise how to register a complaint against this compliance officer? Thank you

cestlavielife Thu 13-Oct-11 10:40:58

i think your friend needs to focus her attention on getitng the right support from GP adn social services to help with ehr children - if son is stateemnted she can get extra support form children with disabillities team.

she should also ask GP to write wahtever letters are needed to benefits office.

she can also seek support from SS herself as an adult with MH issues.

complaints are going to ahve more effect if backed up with profressionals letters etc. she needs the support right now to function day to day more than putting effort in complaining...

MissingMySleep Thu 13-Oct-11 10:43:44

Thanks for the quick reply!

I had this idea that if she responded quickly just re the document that is not correct, it might be good.

She is collecting written reports from the Police etc re her son, to submit, but it may take a little time to get those together.

Is there anything to be gained from a quick response advising that the document the compliance officer has compiled is not what was agreed?

AgentProvocateur Thu 13-Oct-11 11:11:03

I don't think she'd be able to challenge the document if she signed it to confirm that she agreed with its contents. I know it's a bit late now, but why on earth did she sign something without reading it?

MissingMySleep Thu 13-Oct-11 11:16:00

she thought that as the lady read it out as she wrote it, that she wrote exactly what she read out. But she did not. Some of the bits that were disagreed, she read out the agreed change but didn't write/type the change.

And yes I know, she really ought to have read it but it didn't occur to her that the compliance officer would do that.

She was in a state and just wanted to get out of there.

starfishmummy Thu 13-Oct-11 11:20:41

I agree she really should have read the document first.

But to be practical she can contact her local jobcentreplus and complain - there is a set procedure for complaints and they will tell her what to do. At the moment her only grounds for complaint are the attitude of the officer.

Has she been told her benefit will be stopped? She will get that in writing and the letter will outline her right to appeal. It is at that point that she could and should provide supporting evidence. There is no point her doing this unless her benefit is stopped; and at the moment she doen't know if that will happen, and it might not.

MissingMySleep Thu 13-Oct-11 11:24:09

The compliance officer told her that she needs to appeal, so my friend will gather evidence to send in (social worker, gp, police etc).

Thanks for advising that it's the jobcentre plus to contact. I will look that up now, to see if I can find out the right dept for her to write to.

If anyone has tips that I can pass on to her, it would be much appreciated. I do want to help her but it's not an area I know a lot about.

Thanks

RedHelenB Sat 15-Oct-11 12:03:54

Why on earth didn't her mum step in, presumably she wasn't in too much of a state? She will have to appeal but from what you have written the compliance officer was only doing her job & on the evidence presented will decide if your friend has made a fraudulent claim. Have they told your friend this because if not then no need to panic?

I had a compliance officer visit me & some of what she had written down was inaccurate ( I saw them on my own) but it didn't change the facts that I was entitled to what I had claimed.

Where does your friend stay when her ex is using her house on his access weekends?

MissingMySleep Mon 17-Oct-11 09:22:50

Her mum also corrected the lady when she said incorrecthings, but she also assumed that the lady wrote down the revised statements that she read out. I have offered to go with her next time so that this can't happen again.

I do believe she is entitled to what she has claimed, I have known her for over 20 years and not only is she a very honest person, I know the ins and outs of her married life, and they really are not together. Its been a very difficult divorce but now that is all over they are on much better terms.

When he stays at her house for "his" weekends, sometimes she goes away but lately she stays there, as the dad cannot control the teenager.

I understand he has adhd and oppositional defiance something.

WibblyBibble Mon 17-Oct-11 12:59:33

What I would do is write a letter ASAP to the job centre saying she was pressured/bullied into signing (clearly she was if she was made to feel so stressed she couldn't remember to read through it) and laying out the truth. Also stating that she felt intimidated by the officer and giving the reasons for this, and saying if she would like to make an official complaint. Next time she has to go in, I'd suggest taking a dictaphone (I have done this in 'official complaint' meetings and it's amazing how much more reasonable people behave when they know that they can't just claim after that you're lying/paranoid in saying they acted like bullies because it's there for everyone to hear), and preferably also an advocate from either CAB or a specific charity for parents who are caring for disabled children. They have absolutely no right to assume her guilty before investigation, and it sounds like the poor woman has a hard enough life without this kind of crap.

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