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What to do when the DWP wont reply

ruby2017
ruby2017 Member Posts: 15 Connected
Hello, 2 months ago i followed the DWP rule book and took the required first stage of the "What to do next if you dont agree with the decision" and duly wrote to them to 'ask' for permission to make a late request for a reconsideration to aN unsuccessful benefit application decision . I waited the suggested 4 weeks and had no acknowledgement or answer. As i assumed they had my letter anyway i then proceeded with the request for a mandatory re-consideration . I have had no acknowledement or answer to this letter either . I think my next step is to issue a formal complaint to get the machinery working and i need to know what are the required stages to the complaints process ? When did the DWP stop replying to claimants letters ? I will not telephone them as i have had bad experiences with the call advisors,  these people do not understand most of the time and i always end up highly stressed and have then wasted hours on the phone. Usually they say they will call back the next day but  most of the time they dont call back . So i only use the written word now, its less stressful !

Comments

  • Pippa_Alumni
    Pippa_Alumni Scope alumni Posts: 5,799 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi @ruby2017, sorry to hear about your experiences and that you've not been receiving any acknowledgement, it must have been difficult for you to deal with the uncertainty.

    If you do decide to issue a formal complaint, there's a good guide on doing so on Gov.uk's website which tells you what you need to do and what happens next. Do let us know how you get on and whether we can be of any more assistance, and best of luck!
  • CockneyRebel
    CockneyRebel Member Posts: 5,217 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi ruby and welcome

    Did you send your MR request recorded ?
    If you don't have proof that they have received it then it may not be on the system
    MR's can take some time and yours may not have been accepted due to it being late. Unfortunately the way forward is to bite the bullet and telephone them

    You don't what benefit this is regarding

    There is lots of info on this site about the appeals process, please have a look around and come back with any questions

    CR
    Be all you can be, make  every day count. Namaste
  • mikehughescq
    mikehughescq Member Posts: 7,531 Disability Gamechanger
    I suspect the problem here is that you have separated out the request for a late MR and the grounds for the MR itself. If all they got initially was grounds for a late MR but no explanation as to why the decision itself should change then most likely they will have not done anything with it. They won't even have considered whether there are valid grounds for it being late. There is also the issue that despite the recent decision on late MRs many DMs are not up to speed on this and simply bin late MR requests. If your initial request did not include grounds for the MR itself then that makes it even more likely. 

    Most MRs are dealt with inside 3 weeks. I would not expect an acknowledgement. I would be disinclined to pursue a complaint at this stage and would first of all ring them and clarify the lie of the land. If, they have no trace, I would reissue the late MR but include the grounds. 

    I would NOT bother with recorded delivery. It's an unnecessary expense for anyone on a fixed income and track and trace does not apply to recorded delivery so you have no real clue as to where it is at any given time. More importantly you are sending post to a mail delivery centre. It won't be anyone from the DWP who signs for your post. Indeed if anyone at all it could be a private security person or indeed Royal Mail themselves as they have the contract for some centres. Paying money to an organisation for an untracked delivery to an office which is not run by the DWP only to have someone from the same organisation sign for it as received is about as meaningless as it gets. 
  • Matilda
    Matilda Member Posts: 2,610 Disability Gamechanger
    edited November 2017
    I think that sending mail by recorded delivery is safer.  I always sending anything important by recorded delivery, certainly to the DWP.

    There have been cases reported on here of DWP saying they haven't received mail from a claimant - and when told that the item was sent recorded delivery, miraculously the DWP have located the mail concerned!  

    The DWP mislay a great deal of mail but, when told an item was sent recorded delivery, then they'll make an effort to look for it.


  • tomm
    tomm Member Posts: 236 Pioneering
    The to sign for does have some merits, in that it is proof that the black hole in wolverhampton AKA DWP mail handling centre has received your corespondence , as well as of course that you actually sent it and the date it was sent and recieved
    I have used it for sending in MED 3's  for the past 12mths of this current claim  all recieved and processed ,CAB sent my completed  on my behalf ESA50 , It apparently they didn't recieve it, and my claim was closed took several weeks they don't use recorded delivery, it's sadly what many feel they must do, when  the DWP use such an inferior system, bring back the days when your local benefits office dealt with  stuff like this
  • mikehughescq
    mikehughescq Member Posts: 7,531 Disability Gamechanger
    Off topic but the fact that post was delivered using recorded delivery doesn’t mean anything as there’s no possible way of knowing it wouldn’t have been without it. Vice verse too. The reality is that most post sent to DWP does arrive and the overwhelming majority does so without recorded delivery. 

    As I said earlier it’s important to realise that recorded delivery gives you no proof of delivery to DWP as it isn’t delivered to DWP.  Whoever signs it will at best be from Royal Mail themselves as they have that part of the contract. 

    It may help help to also say that opening and processing (scanning) and doing something with the post are three different processes and can often take place in two different parts of the country. Such is the mess of the whole thing that Wolverhampton is actually an office in Telford. 

    If people feel somehow reassured by sending post through the Royal Mail to be signed for by the Royal Mail and want to pay for that only to find that it won’t carry any weight legally for example at an appeal hearing then there’s not much I can add. 
  • Matilda
    Matilda Member Posts: 2,610 Disability Gamechanger
    I'd say my post above about recorded delivery speaks for itself.  People can decide for themselves.
  • mikehughescq
    mikehughescq Member Posts: 7,531 Disability Gamechanger
    As does mine :) 
  • BenefitsTrainingCo
    BenefitsTrainingCo Member Posts: 2,628 Pioneering
    Hi ruby 2017 - outside of the debate about the use of recorded delivery, I think it's important to point out that the DWP has different procedures for complaint depending on what benefit is involved. For instance, it has an online complaints service for jobseeker's allowance and universal credit claimants: jsacomplaints.itsshared.net/start
    However, before you start the complaint, it's important to get the right information about exactly where your claim / reconsideration request has ended up, so you may have little choice but to make the call to the helpline. Make a note of time, date etc, and who you speak to, and politely insist that you are put through to a supervisor if the first person can't help you. If nothing happens as a result of that phone call, then you have a tangible event to start your complaint ball rolling, so to speak. You need to have some clarity on the decision you are challenging, otherwise everything could get overly complicated, especially with time limits for MRs etc.
    If you feel like you are simply not getting anywhere, especially with UC, then asking your MP to get involved can often bring speedy results.
    Good luck!

    Jayne
    The Benefits Training Co:
    Paul Bradley
    Michael Chambers
    Will Hadwen
    Sarah Hayle
    Maria Solomon
    David Stickland
  • ruby2017
    ruby2017 Member Posts: 15 Connected
    Thankyou everyone for your advice. What i dont understand about the DWP in this digital age is that they insist on claimants phoning them which never ends well for either side , if they cant afford the time or money to send letters then why dont they have an interactive website , like the banks do for online banking . The system would start moving a lot faster than the present one . On phoning these people the response is usually,  " we will ring back " either because they cannot locate any letters i have sent them or  because the relevant person who is dealing with the claim is "on holiday, gone home, not in today" , sometimes if its a Thursday or Friday , i am told they will ring back after the weekend and i always have to ring them myself , so its back to square one . So what has happened to the written word ? I prefer to see any decisions in black and white especially when its a complex problem . It also means i have hard evidence for any further decisions or appeals etc . I strongly suspect the real reasons i havnt had any acknowledgements is because mine is a late appeal and therefore not a straightforward claim . I do know from experience from helping a claimant through the process after her husband died , she ended up needing the expertise of a welfare rights officer to threaten the DWP with a special form which is the 1st stage before requesting the local MP to intervene . Lo and behold it never got to the MP stage as the DWP suddenly produced a "LETTER"  And the case was solved , plus a large back payment would you believe . I also have read where the Director of the DWP is sometimes the person to address complaints to ?
  • Matilda
    Matilda Member Posts: 2,610 Disability Gamechanger
    @ruby2017

    More than once I have found contacting my MP to be a very effective way of cutting through public sector red tape - as long as you have a valid and fairly serious complaint.  The MP writes to the head of the organisation who then asks the head of the dept concerned to deal with the complaint - and, lo and behold! the problem is dealt with speedily.
  • wildlife
    wildlife Member Posts: 1,308 Pioneering
    My MP used email to the MP liasson officer at ATOS but got the same reply as I did. However I agree @Matilda it's still worth contacting your MP. Regarding the recorded delivery, according to my hubby who posts all my stuff, this isn't the same as asking for it to be tracked when you get a photo of the signature and a receipt to bring back home. I think the receipt that is kept as proof of postage is very important as DWP cannot then argue that you are at fault for not sending something in on time. 
  • Matilda
    Matilda Member Posts: 2,610 Disability Gamechanger
    It can depend on what your MP is like.  My previous MP was a rottweiler and the present one isn't bad.
  • Justice
    Justice Member Posts: 206 Pioneering
    @mikehughescq I strongly disagree with the advice you are giving not to send anything recorded. Yes they go to a mail centre where they are then scanned to the DWP. The point is you then have proof that you did indeed send it. I would never, ever write anything to DWP or the companies which do the assessments without sending it recorded. You can see that it has reached the mail centre, and you have a copy, and prrof that it was signed for. Same goes for the telephone calls  be they made by you or received, get the name and location of the person you spek with, and log the time and date. 
  • Matilda
    Matilda Member Posts: 2,610 Disability Gamechanger
    @Justice

    I entirely agree with you about sending all communications to the DWP by recorded delivery.  There is a strong consensus on Scope site about this.
  • Justice
    Justice Member Posts: 206 Pioneering
    edited December 2017
    @mikehughescq I would also like to add that our MP was most interrested in the fact that my Husbands papers were sent recorded, and was keen to write the number down and check it herself, she also brought it up with the DWP. I think your advice is really poor .

  • mikehughescq
    mikehughescq Member Posts: 7,531 Disability Gamechanger
    edited November 2017
    Justice said:
    @mikehughescq I strongly disagree with the advice you are giving not to send anything recorded. Yes they go to a mail centre where they are then scanned to the DWP. The point is you then have proof that you did indeed send it. I would never, ever write anything to DWP or the companies which do the assessments without sending it recorded. You can see that it has reached the mail centre, and you have a copy, and prrof that it was signed for. Same goes for the telephone calls  be they made by you or received, get the name and location of the person you spek with, and log the time and date. 
    Can’t say I’m a fan of calling other people’s advice poor unless it can be shown to be factually incorrect. Disagreeing with someone does mot make their advice poor!
     
    You are welcome to disagree, as are others. As I’ve already observed it is a personal choice. That remains unchanged. I happen to believe that factually it can be demonstrated to likely be a poor one for anyone on a fixed income. Not guaranteed to be poor but not guaranteed to be useful either. Throwing money away with no proof of a gain as you can’t prove it would otherwise have been lost. A consensus isn’t really proof of anything. History is littered with examples of where a consensus was hopelessly wrong :)

    Caselaw does say proof of posting is proof of receipt. DWP rely up on that when claimants say they didn’t receive letters. However, tribunals are increasingly sceptical of that approach, which is good, but backfires on claimants. That’s exacerbated by the things I’ve already said. 

    To reiterate. The DWP address you’re sending to is not a DWP address and won’t be signed for by anyone from the DWP as the centres are run by other companies such as Royal Mail. I have had recent appeals where claimants have used recorded delivery and the tribunal held that it was less than helpful unless it could be shown that the person signing was from DWP. It never can be with the involvement of private companies. Indeed at stakeholder meetings DWP staff have explicitly stated that their staff are told they have no right to sign if something comes their way! 

    Tribunals are taking an increasingly pragmatic approach to such matters and recognising that a simplistic approach which says “ I posted it recorded so therefore...” simply doesn’t wash when the process and handling is so much more complex nowadays.

    It has also been observed that it’s possible to email the DWP, assessment providers and HMCTS. That ensures you keep a copy and better still it’s in Sent Items. Unless you get a return message saying the email address is down or unknown then you have proof of receipt far superior to recorded delivery which isn’t even tracked stage by stage. Much as all will tell you that you shouldn’t email they have no choice to deal with it. Email doesn’t cost anything but time and offers far superior guarantees of delivery.

    Wholly agree with you re: phone calls and yet you missed out the only critical piece of information. When calling you should also clarify the specific role of the person you’re talking to. You can then establish whether they even have the authority to tell you whatever they're  telling you.

    This is critical because most people don’t realise that when they ring DWP, the Pension Service, HMRC et al they are often not speaking to staff from those organisation but staff working for private companies to whom telephony has been contracted out.  Their only system access may well be some form of CRM and yet funnily enough they usually fail to mention any of this and will often breezily tell you they’ve noted changes etc. when they can’t possibly have done so!

    Of all the options available, recorded delivery is at the weaker end of the scale.
  • mikehughescq
    mikehughescq Member Posts: 7,531 Disability Gamechanger
    Can’t say I’m a fan of calling advice “really poor” just because you disagree. Feel free to point out the factual inaccuracies in my original post. 

    I have explained fully why it’s a pointless idea. It remains a personal choice. Some people will take on board my comments. Some won’t. I’m okay with either outcome but at least make the decision from an informed perspective rather than some sort of vague consensus.  Consensus on a forum is meaningless. History is littered with examples of collective wisdom being wholly wrong :) However, please bear in mind:

    1) Tribunals are increasingly refusing to accept the case law that proof of postage is proof of receipt when presented with a 21st century process where a DWP address is just a shell for a private company. DWP stakeholder meetings have also made it clear that DWP staff are not authorised to sign. 

    2) DWP, assessment providers and HMCTS can all be emailed. Unless you get a rejection response then you have irrefutable proof of receipt at no cost right there.

    3) You appear to have missed out the two most critical things when speaking on the phone. What’s the role of the person you’re speaking to and do they work for DWP or an outsourced company dealing with the calls on behalf of them and with no access to DWP systems beyond basic CRM? 
  • Justice
    Justice Member Posts: 206 Pioneering
    @mikehughescq. I said I think your advice is really poor because that is my opinion , you have your ideas about my suggestions, and it is fine apparently for you to say..oh actually you know what? I can't be bothered to discuss this with you further. it doesn't really matter, People will make their own decisions. I actually hope they take advice from a qualified adviser rather then me or you.
  • mikehughescq
    mikehughescq Member Posts: 7,531 Disability Gamechanger
    edited November 2017
    The relevant points were in my original post. I added some other relevant considerations in the more recent post. What you and others do with that is absolutely your call. 

    That adviser you think other people should be looking for! I’ve been working in welfare rights for 31 years. Could you be more specific about the qualifications you think I’m missing? :)

    I think I’ve one or two colleagues who recommend recorded delivery. The overwhelming majority do not. 
  • Matilda
    Matilda Member Posts: 2,610 Disability Gamechanger
    @mikehughescq

    The qualified adviser to whom @Justice is referring means the benefits experts in Ask a benefits adviser category - a number of whom have recommended recorded delivery.
  • mikehughescq
    mikehughescq Member Posts: 7,531 Disability Gamechanger
    Said all that needed to be said thanks. Nothing to add. 
  • Justice
    Justice Member Posts: 206 Pioneering
    @mikehughescq. To be specific about one thing you are missing,( As you requested). Sending recorded for an MR or indeed sending your original assessment form in when completed gives you the proof that you have sent the documents in on time, and therefore can not be accused of not having done so.
    Nothing to add here either except to say that I couldn't possibly say which qualifications you are missing, or indeed if you have any qualifications at all. I can say though that if indeed you have been working in welfare rights for 31 years it does seem that you have a lot yet to learn.
  • mikehughescq
    mikehughescq Member Posts: 7,531 Disability Gamechanger
    Please read my posts in full again. 

    Recorded mail does indeed give you proof you met a deadline. It will not prove to an appeal tribunal that they were received. The case law around proof of postage being proof of receipt is, as I have already posted, rapidly being superseded in appeal tribunals. This means that they will no longer take it as given that DWP or agencies acting on their behalf, received anything just because you have a recorded delivery signed for.

    if you send by RD and it arrives that doesn’t say anything conclusive about RD as it most likely would have arrived anyway. If DWP deny receipt and you need to pursue the issue to first tier appeal then RD used to win the day. It no longer does. It may help but it’s a long way from conclusive. 

    I have reported your post as seem quite persistent in throwing in insults. You urged people to listen to people who work in the field. You find out I am one and then tell me I’m wrong anyway. Excellent. 
  • Justice
    Justice Member Posts: 206 Pioneering
    @mikehughescq. You have reported my post? Good heavens I didn't realise that I could be reported for having a different opinion from you. Interesting, I can't wait to see what the outcome is. You may like to keep in mind that Scope has it's own benefits advisers, and that is what I am recommending, this is what I am urging people to do. I see no insults thrown your way, just a difference of opinion. If I had indeed thrown an insult your way there would have been no doubt, but that isn't what I am here for, Scope is a great community, and for the most part a pleasant one, that is why I am here.
  • mikehughescq
    mikehughescq Member Posts: 7,531 Disability Gamechanger
    You are welcome to disagree but no have basis for additionally telling people publicly I have given “poor advice” or that I “have a lot to learn”. 

    If you had said “I disagree because...”; added some factual or legal response and left it at that then no problem. You didn’t. 

    I hope that clarifies it for you. 
  • Justice
    Justice Member Posts: 206 Pioneering
    @ Mikehughescq. do be quiet
  • BenefitsTrainingCo
    BenefitsTrainingCo Member Posts: 2,628 Pioneering
    ruby2017ruby2017,

    Have you had a response to your MR request yet? I know you said in your original post that your request was late, but we now have clarity that you can appeal if the DWP refuse to consider a late request. I'm just concerned that I don't want you to lose the opportunity to appeal against the original decision. 

    What is the date of your original decision? Have you heard from the DWP yet in relation to the mandatory reconsideration request? I'm wondering if you need to consider going to the next stage. You usually need a mandatory reconsideration notice to appeal, but here, where you have requested a late MR but heard nothing, you may be able to appeal directly about what looks like (or certainly could be) a refusal to revise.

    Will
    The Benefits Training Co:
    Paul Bradley
    Michael Chambers
    Will Hadwen
    Sarah Hayle
    Maria Solomon
    David Stickland
  • ruby2017
    ruby2017 Member Posts: 15 Connected
    Hello Will,
    Still no responses of any sort from the DWP.  Judging by some of the replies about advisors not actually being employed by the  DWP and contracted out workers as well as letters going to holding places,  it explains a great deal as to why i always end up angry and frustrated if i ever telephone them . I have yet to speak to an advisor who isnt condescending or totally clueless . I refuse to ring them because of that .
    But thankyou , I hadnt realised there was such a thing as " a refusal to revise ". I will try that route next, though i will try to e-mail a DWP employee, again i did not know that was even a thing ! .
    I also noted that a claimant can issue a complaint about the DWP level of unsatisfactory service.
    Usually this enables a written response i understand .
    It is very alarming to read that no matter how important any correspondence is that we send to the DWP , it appears to be a gamble as to where it ends up !
  • magunra2k
    magunra2k Member Posts: 46 Connected
    I have to agree with @Justice always send recorded when communicating with public services like the DWP, just mentioning recorded delivery when you chase things up greases the wheels that much more, it costs only a small amount to do for a letter and even if it doesnt go to a specific department it still gives you peace of mind that it hasnt got lost or stuck in the bottom of the posties mail bag. 

    if cost is an issue then at a minimum ask the post office for a certificate of posting or proof of postage, it doesnt confirm an item has been delivered but it does prove that you have posted something to the relevant address, dont just stick a stamp on it, particularly if you are dealing with forms as these may class as a large letter rather than letter and the cost of a standard stamp, most undelivered uk letter mail is under paid large letters. 


  • mikehughescq
    mikehughescq Member Posts: 7,531 Disability Gamechanger
    Fascinating as people’s obsession with recorded mail as a positive thing is, it is a fact that Royal Mail keep no statistics at all to show that recorded mail is more successfully delivered than ordinary mail. There is literally no evidence for it being better.

    It’s also a fact that both decision makers and tribunals no longer routinely accept proof of postage as proof of receipt. So, there’s no proof it’s more reliable and even if it were it’s no use in a benefit claim!

    Simon Charles auctioneers selling 5,000 items per week of recorded mail items which were supposedly lost then that’s 60,000 per year. That’s just the items with a monetary value. The overall amount will be much higher.

    Best way to communicate with DWP and HMCTS is by email. It’s free; you get to keep a copy and unless it bounces back then you get to keep a copy. It’s also traceable.
  • ruby2017
    ruby2017 Member Posts: 15 Connected
    Thankyou for that mikehughescq. Before the digital system was introduced  I used to work in the DWP mail room and recorded mail went in the same in box as the rest of the mail so i cant imagine the system being much different today .
    Local benefit advice centres have more success with claim forms being acknowledged on receipt and then acted upon (for reasons only known to the DWP) , however the waiting list to be seen by an advisor is usually so long i decided to try doing it myself . But for anyone out there thinking about completing benefit application forms and writing letters of appeal to the DWP , DONT! just ring for an appointment and join the waiting list for a benefit advisor to do it officially ! Much faster and safer .

  • BenefitsTrainingCo
    BenefitsTrainingCo Member Posts: 2,628 Pioneering
    Hello Ruby2017

    Have you heard anything further about your MR request? Or managed to have any contact with the DWP to establish if they have your MR and if they are looking into your case?  

    As Will said you can appeal against a refusal to accept a late MR. But, if the MR has been accepted and it is more about  a delay in deciding your case then a compliant is more appropriate. 

    It would be helpful to know the date of the original decision? What benefit the dispute is about? and what date you lodged your mandatory reconsideration request? and If your request made it clear that you wanted a MR? Hopefully then we can advise you about which route you need to pursue to resolve this problem.

    Maria
    The Benefits Training Co:
    Paul Bradley
    Michael Chambers
    Will Hadwen
    Sarah Hayle
    Maria Solomon
    David Stickland

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