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Housing benefit

(61 Posts)
vampirequeen Mon 17-Aug-15 10:05:51

This is a rant but I need to vent.

I already claim my teacher's pension due to ill health and a few months ago I was contacted by another pension that I had paid into prior to becoming a teacher. I applied for ill health payment from that pension too and it was accepted. It pays me the grand sum of £33.62 each month.

I promptly declared this new pension to the Housing Benefit people and sent them all the documentation regarding payments that I had. They immediately stopped my housing benefit until I sent them more information. I didn't know what more I could send them so I phoned. They wanted to know what was the pension payable before 6th April and how much it had increased by since then. The pension people were very helpful and sent me the information which I forwarded to the Housing Benefit people. They reassessed my benefit. Told me I owed them money and how it would be deducted from the amount I was entitled to each month. About a week later I got a letter telling me they needed more information and were stopping my housing benefit. I again got them all the information they asked for and jokingly said the only thing left was my blood.

Guess what? Today I got another letter from Housing Benefit telling me they were stopping my benefit until they got more information. I phoned and even the person I spoke to said he'd never heard of this being asked for before. So I've contacted the Pension people again and they're now going to send me details of how much they'd have paid me in November 2014 (had I been claiming at that time) and May 2015 (just after I started claiming) even though if the Housing Benefit people did some basic arithmetic using the figures they already have they could work it out for themselves.

In the meantime I get no housing benefit. I pointed out that without it I can't pay the rent. The reply was that it would be back dated when it was sorted out. I'm sure my landlord will accept back dated rent (not).

This isn't the first time Housing Benefit have messed me about. It happens each time I tell them about a change in income.

I can't help thinking I'm too honest.

sunseeker Mon 17-Aug-15 10:14:20

I think sometimes these civil "servants" forget they are dealing with living breathing people. You are just a number to them - very frustrating. I hope it is all sorted out for you soon.

I don't know who comes up with the questions they ask either. When my DH was diagnosed with terminal cancer we applied for sickness benefit (or whatever it is called these days). We told them that due to his illness he was closing his business - one of the questions asked was "If you are ceasing trading because of the economic downturn do you anticipate commencing trading again when things improve - if so WHEN DO YOU THINK THAT WILL BE! I suggested they ask Gordon Brown who was Prime Minister at the time.

GillT57 Mon 17-Aug-15 10:26:11

With apologies to anyone on here with family working for local authority or benefits department, but sadly these stories, like VQ';s are all too frequent and a reminder of the ineptitude and intransigence of the departments. One of my staff, a HA tenant, received a letter informing her that her boiler needed servicing and they would be along on x day to service all the houses in the terrace. They would not give a time; when she phoned and explained that she is the only one in the terrace of 8 houses with both adults working, so could she please book first appointment so she could then get to work. They would not do this so she had to take a days holiday. If she had been on zero hours contract she would have lost a days pay through the inability or unwillingness of the HA to even understand her point. As to the situation that VQ finds herself in, it makes you angry that all this hassle and possible unpleasantness has come about just because VQ was honest!

FarNorth Mon 17-Aug-15 10:38:22

If she had been on zero hours contract, or flexible contract, she could have risked losing her job or at least getting a bad mark on her record, if she had been asked to work on that day and was unable to do it.

This type of treatment by government depts is a result of government policy and not just the attitude of individual employees in those depts. This is how people can be driven into debt and even homelessness through no fault of their own.

I hope you get them sorted out very soon, vq.

GillT57 Mon 17-Aug-15 11:12:56

Absolutely Farnorth, it is ridiculous. I do hope that you get it sorted VQ.

12Michael Mon 17-Aug-15 12:07:28

With Housing/Council tax benefits , the respective borough/district or other do have pension details as to receipt of the state pension as they work closely with the DWP.
I myself get 2 pensions a civil service and RAF , but in addition I get a one off payment a year of a fixed payment which is also taxable of around £53 per year.
In my case I had not declared this, but the district council was informed form the DWP about this small income, I still had documents and I owed them around £200 plus which they took back as my housing/council tax are on going.
I have just about got back to my normal payments of the benefit, which more or less covers the amount of income tax I pay on my pensions.

Anniebach Mon 17-Aug-15 13:06:42

Not housing benefit but I received state widows pension for 26 years, reached sixty so a change to retirement pension, I filled in the forms, they replied with a request for my husbands details, age, employment etc, I explained he had been dead for 26 years, they asked for proof !

Hope it's sorted quickly for you VQ

Eloethan Mon 17-Aug-15 13:23:39

I hope it's soon sorted out for you vampirequeen. It must be very upsetting and frustrating.

TriciaF Mon 17-Aug-15 14:19:34

Does it help to go in and speak to a real person? This is what I've always done (especially here as everything's in fast french confused
Hoping you get a good result soon VQ.

vampirequeen Mon 17-Aug-15 19:08:11

You can't actually speak to any decision maker face to face. You just get someone who's hands are tied by the system.

I spoke to my pension provider and they're going to send me the information first class so hopefully I'll have it by tomorrow but even if I take it in straight away my benefit won't be paid this month as it's due on Thursday. It's easy for Housing Benefit to say I'll get it with the following month's payment but I still have to pay my rent this month.

durhamjen Mon 17-Aug-15 20:29:34

My son used to work in a housing benefits office in Hull, vampire. They were not allowed to work in the area in which they lived, just in case anyone got so angry they followed them home. That was in the 80s, when you did see the housing officer in person.

TriciaF Mon 17-Aug-15 21:21:26

I'm obviously out of touch, but not surprised.
When I was in UK last week I had to go and collect a parcel from a Royal Mail depot and there were several notices saying the polce would be called at any sign of threatening behaviour.

vampirequeen Tue 18-Aug-15 08:02:28

I didn't see anyone in person...just over the phone. There is no point going all the way to County Hall (10 miles) because I wouldn't be able to talk to a decision maker. Hopefully the information from my pension provider will arrive today and I can take it across the road to the local council office who will fax it to County Hall.

vampirequeen Tue 18-Aug-15 08:06:12

I can understand why people who work in the department have to be protected. Everyone I have spoken to has been very sympathetic but their hands are tied. My rent isn't due until the end of the month and my benefit doesn't cover all of it but if you relied totally on the benefit and were at risk of losing your home I can understand why people react badly and aim it at the only person they can take it out on even though it's wrong.

durhamjen Tue 18-Aug-15 16:58:50

Just hope the fax machine is working, vampire.

Nonnie Tue 18-Aug-15 17:33:51

FarNorth This type of treatment by government depts is a result of government policy and not just the attitude of individual employees in those depts Please explain. I think it is simple incompetence.

TriciaF Tue 18-Aug-15 17:44:49

VQ - there's another person in this scenario, your landlord. You might find that if you approach him/her they will understand the situation and make allowances.

vampirequeen Tue 18-Aug-15 21:45:41

No way will my landlord understand. Although I've been an exemplary tenant and never missed or been late with my rent either before or after I became 'poor', he isn't exactly happy that I rely on housing benefit for part of the rent.

He's had a very privileged life and I don't think he's ever met anyone on benefits before. I can't help thinking he's worried that at some point I will change into the sort of person he saw when he watched Benefit Street grin.

FarNorth Tue 18-Aug-15 23:37:26

Nonnie Government policy is to be as obstructive as possible towards benefit claimants. Hence the many cases of sanctions (money being stopped for weeks at a time) at the slightest excuse.

durhamjen Wed 19-Aug-15 00:46:06

Don't read it, vampire, although I am sure you know about it already. Be nice to the housing benefits people.

Nonnie Wed 19-Aug-15 10:48:36

FarNorth Nonnie Government policy is to be as obstructive as possible towards benefit claimants. please show me this 'policy' and when it was brought in.

vampirequeen Wed 19-Aug-15 10:51:20

I'm always nice to the housing benefit people I talk to. After all it's not their fault the system stinks.

durhamjen Wed 19-Aug-15 10:58:10

We definitely agree on that, vampire.
Has the info from your pension provider arrived yet?

vampirequeen Wed 19-Aug-15 11:06:04

Yes. It arrived yesterday as promised. We took it into the local office straight away and they faxed it over to Housing Benefit. Now we just have to wait for their next bizarre demand or, who knows, they may actually decide to pay what they owe us.

Nonnie Wed 19-Aug-15 11:25:28

No experience of housing benefit but do have of HMRC and CSA both of whom can be very disorganised/inefficient. Son always paid maintenance on time and without question so they should never have been involved but a 'third party' kept telling them he was earning a lot more than he is and so they automatically increased the amount due. When he (twice) proved his earnings they said that as it was not more than 25% wrong he should pay it. So their mistake but he has to pay!