Liverpool City Council – the bedroom tax buffoons!!

Liverpool City Council’s Housing Benefit team have just told me they know nothing at all about the pre 1996 exemption aka the DWP cock up!

The conversation I recall below and you have to ask just what sort of incompetent buffoons work in Housing Benefit in the council!

Karen – the claimant

A tenant I know put in a request for LCCHB to revise her bedroom tax decision in writing before Christmas.  Her name is Karen…and she is also one of the volunteers at Reclaim my local grassroots anti-bedroom tax group.

Karen has worked part time since 1991 when she moved into her property and has appealed the bedroom tax decision on other grounds and has had back her tribunal ‘bundle.’  In this bundle prepared by LCC for the tribunal the council has included her HB form from 1991.

So straightaway we know that Liverpool has HB records going back before 1 January 1996 and these decisions should be very simple. Other councils may not have records going back this far but clearly Liverpool has!

The telephone call

I first spoke with a HB officer who knew nothing at all about the pre-1996 issue.

I asked him if he had seen the DWP U1/2014 HB circular and he said no.

I briefly explained the DWP has admitted the cock up and instructed councils to pay back tenants to be met with I know nothing about this!!

He went on to say often DWP say things to tenants but not to us!!!

At this juncture it of course necessary for me to (a) stop falling off the chair laughing and (b) speak to someone senior!

I asked to speak to the head of HB at the council and mentioned him by name.

The buffoon said there is nobody of that name that works here!!  The thought even crossed my mind how I wish I could send peanuts down a phone line to feed him but instead I politely asked to speak to a supervisor.

The supervisor

After almost ten minutes on hold…Hello I’m Dominic how can I help you?

I explained the same issues as he had wrongly been told the tenant had called into a one-stop shop when she had sent this in the post – and as any Reclaimer knows put it in writing people!!!

The supervisor had not heard of the U1/2014 circular and had been given no instructions or training on this!

(My chair was decidely wobbly at this stage!)

He also said we have had nothing from the landlords on this!!

I pointed out to him the bedroom tax is just a part of a HB claim and has nothing to do with landlords as it is between the claimant (Karen) and the council who administer HB on behalf of the DWP.

One would have thought that a HB ‘supervisor’ would know what role he played in the job that he does, but clearly not the case!

So having explained his role he then asks has a letter been sent to Karen from her landlord asking if her landlord had ‘made’ her exempt!!

I restated again this is a matter between claimant and council!

(I’m not decrying landlords as many if not all of them are pulling out the stops to identify all tenants that are exempt as it is in their financial interests to do so)

He then asked me what I wanted him to do in this case and offered to expedite matters.  I said yes of course but also stated i was surprised that LCC were not on the case and up to speed with this?

Why and what do you mean he asked?

(Chair extremely wobbly by now….)

I informed him that if Liverpool is the same as the other councils in Merseyside who have seen about 15% of bedroom tax tenants in this boat and this would mean about 1600 revisions for him in Liverpool.

I also mentioned that neighbouring Wirral council had already started paying back the wrongly deducted bedroom tax (and I know their IT records only go back to 1998 too – though I did not inform Chief Monkey the Supervisor of this!)

I also mentioned that the Mayor of Liverpool stated a few days ago that he pledged to support all of the victims of this pernicious bedroom tax and will do all he can in his power to get them reimbursed as quickly as possible with the money.  Oh nearly forgot Joe the Mayor said he and his council had contacted all the housing associations over this!

So how strange that the HB officer and his supervisor know absolutely bugger all about this !!!

I then went on to mention that Karen (who was sitting open mouthed next to me) has had almost £20 per week deducted wrongly from her housing benefit and now some 42 weeks in this amounted to well over £800 she was due.

Oh!

I then continued I know you have records as you have included her 1991 HB claim form in the bundle you sent to tribunal for her bedroom tax appeal

……………silence…………………………………………

Ok I will expedite this he said after a pause.

Thank you and good luck with the other 1600 similar cases you are going to receive soon I responded!!

I can’t talk about other cases Sir he said

Bye say Joe!

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19 thoughts on “Liverpool City Council – the bedroom tax buffoons!!

  1. Oh how I wish I could have been a fly on the wall, Joe.

    The ignorance / incompetence of these people beggars belief! Here am I, a complete nobody, but thanks to all of your hard work and publicity I feel as if I know more about this issue than many of the so-called professionals.

    Keep up the good work.

  2. Hi Joe, it’s the same story with Trafford Council; they’ve not received the circular (or so they say) and have had no directives from the DWP. The person I spoke to had heard of the pre 1996 issue but only because she’d read about it in the paper!! I do hope IDS doesn’t think he can close the loophole retrospectively and avoid paying all that money back. It would be interesting to find out how many other LAs don’t know what’s going on.

  3. Plausible deniability? How far does the culture of denying people their rights, never mind their rightful benefits (or exemption) extend?

    How many people must have rung that office and been fobbed off and made to feel foolish?

    I hope the Mayor gets to hear what to peanut-gobblers are up to. I assume they may even think that it’s their job to try & not pay back money owed to HB claimants, having been fooled by IDs and his propaganda. They just don’t seem to get the public service ethic that they are OUR workers, for OUR services, and not for the DWP.

  4. hi told to contact council which I did they said I had to contact dss as there records only go back to 2005 yet housing say there working with halton council for list of who is involved
    I have not contacted dss yet

    1. Alan – HBC have to investigate this and is their responsibility not yours to go off and contact all and sundry. The fact HBC appear not to have “adequate records” means they are guilty of maladministration in my view. HHT may be able to help however as they SHOULD have rent records going back this far and SHOULD have these as if you have been in property since before 1996 and a tenant of the council before stock transfer those records SHOULD have transferred too. I say SHOULD not because I know or suspect HHT do not have them but when councils transferred it is likely and in fact common for records to have gone amiss.

  5. Cornwall council is the same. I enquired in their office and was told I shouldn’t believe everything that’s in the press or internet. Met with an extremely rude receptionist whose unhelpfulness was paramount. Complete disinterest and would not help me at all. I had to move in 1991 due to domestic violence. The DWP paid for my move as my husband had tried to murder me. I was trying to find out if I could apply as I only moved due to the domestic violence. No one could tell me anything. A complete waste of my day. I wonder how much these council employees are getting paid for their lack of customer service and rudeness. They definitely need retraining as they lack any people skills whatsoever.

    1. Cornwall Council I have named and shamed before over bedroom tax issues as they said very early on that tenants could not appeal the bedroom tax at all…and then issued a news release within 24 hours to apologise over it. Naming and shaming has its uses and it was always obvious that Liverpool would not be the only council buffoons over the pre 1996 exemption. I suspect ALL councils will have a more competent set of procedures in place very soon else the naming and shaming will go on till they do

  6. It would be interesting to find out if the councils that have failed to take note of the H1/2014 or to inform their “workers” are contracted out departments no longer under direct internal control… without going back through all your previous posts Joe, I vaguely re-call Liverpool is contracted out via its “one stop” and Cornwall also rings a bell dimly in my mind over problems with a PPI, linked with other councils, suposedly saving money and instead costing far more than it should have with a much reduced ability to service its requirements.

  7. Apparently the DWP are now saying they are going to change this legislation in March of this year??
    If you come under this 1996 rule. Get your letter sent off ASAP. And remember, DO NOT TALK TO THEM ON THE PHONE!!!! Only deal with them in writing.

    Email RECLAIM with your postcode and initials. thereclaimgroup@aol.co.uk

    They will, alert your own MP. With a view to this going to the Parliamentary Ombudsman.

    And, IF, you have a Labour MP. Make sure you have emailed them, yourself, about this issue….

  8. Im sure DWP would WISH to change the legislation as soon as – whether they do or not is another questions altogether.

    Note that if say DWP change the legislation at end of this financial year (Apr 13 to March 14) the law still says you are exempt in that time so even if you discover you are exempt later on they still have to pay you the bedroom tax they wrongly deducted. Of course everyone who thinks they are affected should apply now I am just saying this is not a case of if you don’t apply before March you lose out

  9. Joe I came across this info earlier

    “For too long now our Government have been claiming that the Bedroom Tax introduction was because there needed to be a resent restriction the same as there was in the private sector. They keep comparing the two and saying they are the same, but in fact they are very different in so many ways, and we would like to equalise it in one way only.
    All Local Housing Allowance Tenants were made exempt on the legislations introduction on the 7th April 2008, we would like the same grace for the Bedroom Tax sufferers  as we believe that to be quite significant.”
    http://www.wewillbeheard.org/important_bedroom_tax_petition.html

    Joe is this correct, re LHA Tenants were made exempt?.

  10. http://www.liverpoollabour.org/NewsandPictures/Bedroom_Tax_Errors.aspx

    Was this the same “liverpooldirectlimited” 0151 233 3009 that you referred to in this post?

    Does this mean they have finaly got on top of it, and if so why are they asking you to get in contact with your landlord, its nothing to do with your landlord the only important parties to this are you and your council, and then its up to the council to do all the hard work of contacting and record checking… not your b***y landlord!

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