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For all those who think that getting benefits is easy…well, it’s not

For all those who think that getting benefits and claiming benefits is easy...well, it's not. This post from Jayne Linney tells you about a typical day:

Yesterday I was in court (for the third time) because my Local Authority Housing Benefit (HB) Dept are inept. They have for the past 2 years been playing with my HB account -  suspending and releasing, and finally, after 14 months, closing my HB account payments!

My supportive Housing Association officer has done everything she can to help sort this - to no avail. Hence the Court involvement.

To cut a long irrelevant story short, this was our third appearance in court and the judge had at the last meeting called the Director of Housing to come before her to explain the situation. We arrived to find HB had sent a Team Leader (TL) as a representative - who, in front of the judge, could only reply with the obligatory “I don’t know”!

To say the judge was unamused is an understatement. The upshot was yet another adjournment with an order that HB must prioritise my new claim (submitted yesterday afternoon).

It was at the point the fun started.

As we left the court room, someone said if only my Employment and Support Allowance was income related, my claim would be passported, which means an automatic entitlement to HB. I admit I lost it. I stopped and very firmly stated “It is.”

Everyone stood still. The TL very quietly said “for how long” and at my reply of “3 years” his face dropped. He started to bluster about me having evidence of this and both my rep & housing officer beat me to stating the on screen records of communication with the DWP would show this. At this, I was ready to explode and my body’s response to real anger is I start to shake. My partner caught me before I fell and I was taken away to a quiet area to sit and breathe!

After I’d stopped shaking, my rep said I could go to the local JobCentre+ (2 buildings away) and ask for a letter from them proving this, but I had to pretend the court had sent me and I needed this immediately to avoid eviction. He then stated “DO NOT tell them its for HB, otherwise they’ll refuse and say they should look it up” !

Entering the JobCentre, we went immediately to the desk where I quietly explained to the person on reception what I needed.

His immediate response was - “you really need to phone for this information.” Using the script from my legal rep, I said it was urgent and that I would really appreciate his help. He began to bluster away about process, systems and staff not having time to do things immediately - and then said something so sincerely I had to bend over ‘coughing’ to cover up laughter: ”We do get taken advantage of”. I forced myself to thank him and reiterated my appreciation and he said he’d go and see if someone could help me.

Read the rest here.

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