Sun 28 Sep, 2014 4:50 pm
cheekipixi wrote:I just wanted to show that I understand how people feel from experience and if I can help in anyway then I will. This will be brief and it only just scratches the surface of what the DWP have put me thru in less than a year.
In May 2012, I received the ESA50 questionnaire from the DWP asking me to complete, sign and return it no later than September 2012. A few weeks later I was sent an appointment with ATOS for a face to face assessment, due to panic attacks I failed to attend this app and another one after that, on the third attempt i took my daughter with me and I managed to attend this one, this was on the 26th November 2012. I didn't hear from the DWP again until the following June.
In June 2013 I received a letter stating my Incapacity Benefit was going to be closed down and this would take effect on the 11th July 2013. I also received the report from the ATOS assessment at the same time. This report was completely untrue. And was full of contradictions.
On the 11th July 2013 ALL my entitlements where closed, these being:-
•Incapacity Benefit - this was closed down
•Income Support - this was closed down
•I lost my entitlement to the Crisis Loan and The Community Care Grant
•The assistance towards the Interest on my Mortgage stopped
•Council Tax Reduction entitlement was suspended
I had been left with no money, no advice of what to do next, I even lost the right to school dinners for my children. It was at this time that I asked for help from my local MP
From July 2013 to present the DWP have sent me 100 plus letters, the last letter always contradicting the present one. These letters were to inform me which entitlement I was in receipt off, the amount payable each fortnight and the amount of help towards the Interest on my Mortgage. These payments kept changing weekly and they ranged from £200 per week to 10 pence a week to no entitlements, this also included the payments towards the interest of my mortgage, which was not being paid.
My mortgage company requested an Income and Expenditure form to be completed and suggestions of how I was going to repay the arrears that were mounting up on my account. Obviously with not knowing my Income I could not complete this form accurately and eventually the Mortgage Company applied to the courts for an eviction date. Again I sought the help of my MP and it was found that the DWP had not paid anything towards the Mortgage Interest, in addition to this, with my entitlements being unknown and the amount also being unknown I could not pay the Mortgage Company either, so it was no wonder they wanted to evict me. In a panic I sent a copy of every letter I had received from and to the DWP since July 2013, to prove that I was not intentionally avoiding payments. I also enclosed and Income and Expenditure and entered as much information as I possibly could. Thankfully the order of an eviction date was cancelled but a charge of nearly £400 was added to my Mortgage account for court and solicitor fees, putting me into even further arrears.
During this time the DWP had also stated that I had 2 overpayments which needed to be repaid, one for £1,700, this was because apparently the DWP had been paying me ESA as well as Income Support, from my bank statements I discovered this was untrue, I notified my MP of this and after further investigations I was informed that this overpayment had been wavered even though I had not been paid as they said I had been.
The other overpayment was for £2,345.70, I constantly queried this but received very vague answers. It was only when I appealed against this decision and the Tribunal services sent to me all the relevant papers for the hearing, that I discovered that the overpayment was actually due to a failure to inform the DWP of a change of circumstances from 2 years previous. Now being fully aware of the reasons for the overpayment I was able to find and forward onto The Tribunal Services a copy of a form I had filled in, giving all details of the change of circumstances. A few weeks later I received a letter from the Courts advising me that the DWP had looked at my appeal again and had made a more favourable decision and my appeal was now cancelled and closed. Even though I had appealed against this overpayment, the DWP had already started to deduct money from my entitlements in repayment and in the report the decision maker had also stated that I was NOT to be reimbursed with the payments already taken. I have queried this decision of cancelling my appeal and to date I have not received a reply. To confuse matters even further, I had received yet another repayment plan to start 18th December 2013 of £135.00 every fortnight until March 2018. This I have also queried numerous times and to date I have had no replies.
My Tribunal date for my appeal against the decision to NOT award me ESA was set for the 28th November 2013 and a week or so before this date I received a letter from the Tribunal Services stating that they had received a letter from the DWP stating the decision maker had looked at my appeal again and had changed the decision to a more favourable one and that my appeal had now been cancelled. have written numerous times to the DWP requesting this new decision and only received a reply on the 14th January 2014, making an appeal against this decision impossible. This decision being to cancel everything and reinstate my Incapacity Benefit and Income Support and start the whole process once again from the beginning. Apparently Income Support and Incapacity Benefit had already been reinstated months before this decision had been made and I still await a reply from a letter appealing against this decision.
Earlier in the year (2013) I had received a budgeting loan but obviously due to ALL my entitlements being stopped the DWP could not take any repayments from me. I didn’t receive any advice on this matter on how I was going to repay this loan until around October time of 2013, where it was stated that £49.00 per week was to be deducted from whatever entitlement I was in receipt of at the time. I replied stating that I could not possibly offered these repayments, especially now I was in arrears with my mortgage, I still await a reply.
Just before Christmas 2013 I discovered that deductions had been taken from my entitlements and instead of receiving £140.00 per fortnight I was actually only receiving £40.00 per fortnight, giving me £20.00 per week to live from and just before Christmas and even though I queried this, I received no explanations or advice and deductions are still being taken from my fortnightly entitlements.
I still await replies from the DWP even though I have requested the information many many times. I have in the last few days written to ICE and now await their reply.
I discovered the DWP lost my file for seven months, they add they had not followed the correct procedures, they admit I have a mental illness and they admit that all of this must of had a detrimental affect on my mental health, they say they are sorry for all the distress they have caused and now want to put me through it all again. I may lose my home because of them, I have nearly lost my mind because of them and have been put on high blood pressure tablets due the stress, I am a single parent of two children living at home, one being disabled, facing life with my children being homeless is something I cannot imagine, I have worked all my life but was signed off sick by my Dr to then lose my job because of long term sickness and then to possibly lose my home of twenty three years is something I finding hard to cope with with.
Sun 28 Sep, 2014 4:50 pm
ephemerid wrote:Hello cheekipixi.
You need help and fast. You are not alone, and you are entitled to get the help you need.
First - you say you have some mental illness. Do you have a CPN or a key worker? If not, ask your GP for one.
They can help with letters etc. to support what you say; it also might be an idea to ask for elp from your local authority if they have a benefits advice worker (some do).
Second - make an appointment with the Citizens Advice Bureau. Take all your paperwork with you - and someone to support you, as this is not a situation you should be dealing with on your own.
You will find help and advice at the following websites - blacktrianglecampaign, benefitsandwork, dwpinvestigations, many more; and they all have links to other sites for help and interest.
There are many mental health groups and charities who can help too - Mind is particularly good.
You can also write to the Independent Case Examiner (just google it for the details) who can examine your case and follow up a complaint to DWP. You MUST complain - your letters will come with an address of the Benefit Delivery Centre, and you need to write to that address and make it clear this is an official complaint. It might take time to get the complaint written down as it's very complex, but they need to know where they went wrong and they need to clarify what happened and why they are deducting so much from your benefit.
This is all a bit of a mess, but you're not alone. If DWP have not followed the correct procedures, you are entitled to an apology and compensation. The terms they use are maladministration and misdirection, and if they are guilty of either they should pay for the excess interest you have been charged as it's their fault you were wrongly put into arrears.
Have you been to your MP? It's his/her job to follow up these things and you need to contact them if you haven't already.
Please ask for the help that is available to you. It's there, and many people have been helped through similar situations.
Sun 28 Sep, 2014 4:50 pm
ephemerid wrote:I've just re-read your post and mine - I missed the bit where you said you were already in contact with ICE. That's good.
Please don't think I'm being patronising, but I really hope you get some support with all this.
You're clearly perfectly capable of fighting, as I was - but it really helps to have someone to offer emotional support through all this even if there may be no need for practical help.
My battle drove me to distraction, and although I got the result I needed with no help form CAB or anyone, having a supportive friend at home made the difference between coping and cracking up.
Good luck - and thanks for sharing your story. It's appalling, and all too common.
Have you thought of writing to Dame Anne Begg? She is currently calling for evidence from claimants, and wants to hear our tales of woe.
I've written to her already, and if you want to, the address is -
Dame Anne Begg MP
DWP Parliamentary Select Committee
London SW1 3JA
Mark the envelope - FAO Dame Anne Begg - Call For Evidence
Sun 28 Sep, 2014 4:50 pm
cheekipixi wrote:Hia ephemerid,
Thank you so much for your reply and advice, and the name and address of Dame Anne Begg MP.
Yes, I have had help from my MP but I feel he cannot do anymore, I have written to the Ombudsman and he won't help, the Council refuse to help me. I have sent a letter to I.C.E. and if he cannot help then I'm taking up with Human Rights and the UN, I refuse to be treated like this, as if I am a nobody by this government, they want your vote then they just cast you aside, not I anymore though.
As for a someone from mental health, I was with them the majority of my life, they supported me with a lot, then out of the blue the discharged me stating they could,nt find a diagnosis, that was nearly six years ago and I have fought them since so I can access some sort of service but they refused, saying also there was nothing wrong with me, I also had a letter from my Dr which was sent by my psychiatrist about my CPA review and every word was a lie, the last page was missing and it took my advocate two years to get this last page, which wasn't signed anyway. My MP again, helped through this, the MHT refused to budge and he went to the NHS trust, who after nearly six years of denying me services, put me through to a self referred group, there is waiting list, a pretty long one, but my new psychiatrist said it would really help me, the only thing is, it's very intense and psychological based, and it is one full day every week for thirty months then a less intensive group for a further twenty months, and that is the only help I have apart from my advocate, all the MHT such as Mind, Gofal etc wont help me, I don't know why but there you go.
My life has been one fight after another, but if I believe in something I wont be silenced and a lot of these proffessionals don't like it.
I am very grateful to you for your advice and will now write to Dame Anne Bigg.
Take care and I will let you know the result