I sent this email to my MP to request help with our chaotic benefits situation. I thought I would put it here as it may be interesting to some of you.
To: Peter Luff MP
CC: South Worcestershire Revenue and Benefits Shared Services
Dear Mr Luff.
I am writing regarding our situation with Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit. Our reference number for this is xxxxxxxxxxxxx
We have repeatedly requested that our benefit paid since the last tax year be re-assessed in full. This is because of reasons set out below. Most recently, we have been sent a letter (dated the 15th of March 2011) which stated “As your household has had many changes to your income over the last twelve months resources do not allow for further analysis of each period to be made.” This is absurd, as we requested this analysis precisely because our income has had so many changes, and we are certain that mistakes have been made. This same letter included copies of all our award letters for the past year, a bundle half an inch thick, with the implication that we should work it for out ourselves. This despite us having no information as to how to calculate these benefits.
Over the past year my wife, xxxxx xxxxxxx, has had a mixture of Job Seekers Allowance and temporary work from several different job agencies. Rather than stay on JSA she has continually made the effort to take work whenever possible, and since little teaching work has been available much of what she has done has been cooking and cleaning work. She has followed all the rules, and all work done has been reported to the Job Centre and to the Council Hub, and payslips have been copied to both continuously over the past year.
As a result, our housing benefit, council tax benefit and job seekers allowance have varied wildly. There has been confusion on many occasions due to her having multiple employers and we have even had benefits stopped while they await P45 forms that don’t exist because she has not actually left any agencies to work for another. We have been over paid and had it clawed back, underpaid with no apology for the times when we have missed our rent as a result.
I myself have had no income because I have been running a startup company which has not yet paid wages, and since Christmas I have been seriously ill and confined to my bed after an M.E. relapse. I am claiming ESA for this.
We are being taken to court on the 13th of April for the non-payment of council tax which I believe should have been covered by council tax benefit since in the period covered my wife had hardly any work and I was sick. This impending court case is causing a lot of stress for me and is having an impact on my recovery.
We have tried to play by the rules, take work whenever possible (I even started my own business as M.E. makes me otherwise unemployable) and report all income, but we are being penalised for it. It would have been easier for both of us to stay on Job Seekers Allowance and have a nice stable income with no shocks.
We would be grateful for any help you could give in getting our income and benefit payments for the last year properly assessed using all the available information. I would also like to thank you for intervening when my wifes CRB check was delayed for several months, as without this she would have had no teaching work at all.
Thank you for your time.