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My Council Is Ignoring Me

Hello. I was previously getting ESA (support group) and DLA High mobility Low care. I was recently assessed for PIP, and was awarded Enhanced care and mobility - my care needs changed drastically with two new conditions, and deterioration of my previous disabilities. My PIP payments start next week. I received an email regarding my not making payments on my council tax bill. This is because at present, my income is £124 per week. There is a £200 a month shortfall in my LHA (even though my rent is only £470 monthly in social housing) I emailed a copy of my PIP award, and asked for a form to claim disabled element on council tax. I received this and posted it back the same day (a month ago) at the same time, I asked council tax to pass this information on to housing benefit, to claim for another bedroom due to carers staying over most nights. I doubled up on the request by directly emailing housing benefit to ask for them to adjust my housing benefit. I have regular contact with these departments, so I know individuals email addresses. Now I am being ignored. I have emailed both council tax and housing benefit again (I prefer to email as I have memory issues due to a brain aneurysm, which is why I always contact by email) to remind them that I am entitled to an additional bedroom on my HB claim, and to ask why I have not received a reduced council tax bill, and instead, I got a letter from court two days ago, for my unpaid council tax. Obviously all this worry and financial stress is making my illnesses worse, and the council is very aware of this. I do not know what I should do now please?

Replies

  • NystagmiteNystagmite Member Posts: 609 Pioneering
    Have you contacted someone like CAB to get them to talk to the council for you?
  • BenefitsTrainingCoBenefitsTrainingCo Member Posts: 2,692 Pioneering
    Hi @YorkshireLass

    How frustrating for you. It really does add to stress and worry when you feel you are being ignored like this.

    The following link on Citizens Advice website tells you the steps the council have to go through when there are council tax arrears. Make sure that they have not missed stages in the process out and get advice and input from a local advice agency as soon as you can to challenge their decision. The following link also gives you a link to find your nearest Citizens Advice office.
    https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/housing/council-tax/council-tax/

    It really is important that you get help with this.

    Practically, are you requesting read receipts for the emails you have sent? Perhaps send another stating that you are going to seek independent assistance with this issue and then ask for a read receipt of the email.
    I'm sure you have copies of all the emails you have sent, which will help the Local Advice agency act on your behalf and state your case.

    A local advice agency like a Citizens Advice office may well have local contacts in the Local Authority Benefit departments that they can speak directly to which may help. (I cant promise they all have this - but some do).

    A local advice agency will hopefully be able to help you complain about the lack of response you have had with your case and prevent any further arrears and court action.

    I really hope you find somebody to be able to help you locally.

    Please post again if we can help further,

    Laura
    The Benefits Training Co:
    Paul Bradley
    Michael Chambers
    Will Hadwen
    Sarah Hayle
    Maria Solomon
    David Stickland
  • wildlifewildlife Member Posts: 1,314 Pioneering
    edited August 2017
    @YorkshireLass, Just to add to the above excellent advice. I've just changed from DLA to PIP and whenever there's a change in my benefit my Husband takes the DWP decision letter into the local council office by hand and gets the information   stamped as received. He brings the letter back with him. Do you have anyone who could do this for you? You could check first if any ID or a letter signed by you giving permission is needed. This would be far easier and could be done as well as sending emails. You don't say how long it is since you first notified the council of your benefit change? Can you ring and speak to them as well as emailing?
  • YorkshireLassYorkshireLass Member Posts: 11 Listener
    Thank you both for your considered replies. I had an email back from council tax confirming the scanned PIP letter that I'd sent had been received, and that it had been passed on to housing benefit. Unfortunately,  my local CAB has had its funding cut - the benefits advisor was helping me last year, but she is rarely in the office now. My last three calls to ask her to ring me back have gone unanswered. I really do feel like I'm on my own with this. Thank you for your help
  • wildlifewildlife Member Posts: 1,314 Pioneering
    edited August 2017
    @YorkshireLass It's always difficult to deal with things on your own that are not straight forward but looking at the facts as you have presented them I don't think you have anything to worry about. You now have written proof that your benefit information has been received and that both Council Tax and Housing Benefit have the information they require to adjust both accordingly. It's unfortunate the court letter arrived before the email but the wheels of motion grind slowly when the people concerned are doing things for others and not themselves. My hubby informs me our adjustments were done very quickly after receipt of the necessary information so hope the same applies to you..  
  • BenefitsTrainingCoBenefitsTrainingCo Member Posts: 2,692 Pioneering
    YorkshireLass,

    I completely agree with my colleague's advice and the support from wildlife too. It sounds as if it may be worth making a complaint once you get this sorted out, about the length of time it has taken. 

    Another thing you could consider is contacting your MP - I understand that even during the election period they can still help with constituent's problems like this one. Or there may be a local councillor who can intervene for you.

    You should be able to find a local councillor by entering your postcode here & then going to the correct page on your local authority's website.

    Will
    The Benefits Training Co:
    Paul Bradley
    Michael Chambers
    Will Hadwen
    Sarah Hayle
    Maria Solomon
    David Stickland
  • YorkshireLassYorkshireLass Member Posts: 11 Listener
    Hello, sorry for the delay in replying but I've been unwell. I wrote again to both parties within the council (council tax and housing benefit) ct have replied with this: 

    I refer you to my email below dated 3rd may 2017 reminding you that April’s and may’s payment had yet to be made.The Summons procedure has been followed as no payment has been made following the original bill and reminder notice being issued.Any application of discounts would not stop the above procedure.I confirm I did send your email to the benefits team. 

    Apparently no matter what, they are pressing ahead with the court summons. I emailed the court yesterday to put them in the picture with this - not had a reply yet. Housing benefit are still ignoring me, no reply and I sent the last email directly to their manager. I've tried CAB again and nobody has returned my call. My parents (yet again) have had to make up the £180 a month shortfall in my £470 rent. I'm swimming in mud yet again. I intend to make a complaint, but as the people who are dealing with this are managers, I'm not sure what the point would be? Thanks again peeps 

  • wildlifewildlife Member Posts: 1,314 Pioneering
    edited August 2017
    @YorkshireLass I'm still disgusted by the way you are being treated. But putting emotions aside and looking at the facts and what you have already done with little in the way of a result, you are in a strong position to ignore the summons at this stage and concentrate on saving all your emails and making a record of what you have done up to now. I note you haven't rung anyone? From our experience of changing from DLA to PIP we had to ring the council and stay on the phone till the council tax and housing benefit were both sorted out at the other end. You will eventually get the money back from HB to pay back your parents and someone needs to sort out your council tax, can you ring them yourself? If not can your parents help with this? Do hope you get this intolerable situation sorted soon...x  
  • BenefitsTrainingCoBenefitsTrainingCo Member Posts: 2,692 Pioneering

    Hi @YorkshireLass from a fellow Yorkshire Lass, let me just add - never underestimate the impact of complaining!

    Send your complaint to the Complaints Department of the council, and if you do not feel they respond to it satisfactorily, send it to the Local Government Ombudsman - all councils keep stats (that are publicly available) of how many of these they get and they hate them! If they do press on with the Liability Order, you could ask for the costs of this to be removed as part of the complaint.

    Sounds like the CAB are a non-starter, perhaps a local Money Advice service would be able to assist, a lot of Housing Associations have these, and Councils themselves - worth a try.

    Good luck! Let us know how you get on, or if you have any further issues/questions.

    Mary


    The Benefits Training Co:
    Paul Bradley
    Michael Chambers
    Will Hadwen
    Sarah Hayle
    Maria Solomon
    David Stickland
  • YorkshireLassYorkshireLass Member Posts: 11 Listener
    Sorry for the late reply yet again, obviously this is hammering my health. I haven't rung anyone because I need to keep a record of things, for my own needs. I have terrible memory problems after a brain aneurysm a few years ago. My Parent's are brilliant with me financially, or I'd have gone under with this. I will complain again to another department. I've had a reply from the courts (emailed them to tell them what was happening) and they said they've passed the info onto the judge. I'll let you know how it goes, once the date has passed. But still no reply from the housing benefit adjudicator (she was who I emailed directly, and sent copies of my PIP award to) Thank you again kind people
  • BenefitsTrainingCoBenefitsTrainingCo Member Posts: 2,692 Pioneering
    edited June 2017
    @YorkshireLass


    Re your housing benefit, it sounds as if it might be helpful to treat this is a separate problem. If I've understood it correctly, your housing benefit is being paid at the wrong rate because they are applying the bedroom tax even though you are entitled to an additional bedroom? If you've already asked for your benefit to be changed without success, then is it time to appeal?

    Unlike with other benefits you don't have to have a mandatory reconsideration notice before you can appeal, so if you haven't had a response to your request that they change your benefit, you can still go ahead. 

    Re the overnight carers rule, I'm sure you know but the local authority may need more than just confirmation of the PIP award. The council has to think about whether you 'reasonably require' as well as actually receive regular overnight care from a non-resident carer. I'm sure you have already provided enough evidence on this but just in case, it's worth bearing in mind.

    Here's the DWP circular for local authorities about these decisions - paragraph 11 onwards might be useful.

    Good luck!

    Will
    The Benefits Training Co:
    Paul Bradley
    Michael Chambers
    Will Hadwen
    Sarah Hayle
    Maria Solomon
    David Stickland
  • YorkshireLassYorkshireLass Member Posts: 11 Listener
    Hello, it's me again! Just thought I'd let you know - I took your advice, and had an online chat with the money advice service. They sent me over to the local government ombudsman. I filled in an extensive online complaint, and was initially disappointed at a standard reply, saying I would have to make formal complaints again against the council. I did a bit of detective work, and found the reply address. I practically begged them to help me (well, I did in fact beg) and supplied screen shots of all the umpteen emails going back and forth, and a word doc with the contents of said emails, and the last reply to my complaint. Today, I got this email: 
    Hello, I can confirm that your claim has now been updated and you have been allowed an extra bedroom in your Housing Benefit assessment based on the fact that you require overnight care and you regularly have carers stay over with you. You will receive entitlement letters through the post shortly.

    Needless to say, I'm over the moon! I think that maybe a phone call may have been had, from the lady I emailed at the ombudsman, because it was a shock to get the email from the council. The court date has been and passed for the council tax issue, so I will wait and see whether it is passed back to the council, and take it from there. Thanks so much for everyones help. I feel like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders. Thank you once again :-) 

  • Sam_AlumniSam_Alumni Scope alumni Posts: 7,731 Disability Gamechanger
    Great news @YorkshireLass :)

    Scope
    Senior online community officer
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