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UK-Justice
UK-Justice, Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 16193
Experience:  Called to the Bar in 2007
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Between Autumn 2011 - Winter 2012 it was announced in public,

Customer Question

Between Autumn 2011 - Winter 2012 it was announced in public, that “MP's have agreed a 5.2% increase in benefits … at a time when the countries finances were under severe pressure to protect people against increase in prices.”

When the time arrived and I received notification of my benefits increases, I compared the 5.2% increase with the new amount they quoted and I calculated a difference (loss) of £0.01 (one pence) per week.

I debated what the loss of one pence per week, or 52 pence per year, meant to me.

I wrote to Department of Work and Pension (DWP) and brought the matter to their attention. To my dismay, while they have acknowledged a shorfall (arrears) in my benefit payments they appear reluctant to do anything about it.

I have written three letters to different people at different addresses. It has actually cost me more in postage than the value of the arrears.

I have a hunch that principles are being violated and liberties are being taken.

The last letter I received contained a number of dubious statements:

a) “I can confirm that the Central Payment Index (CPI), on which benefit uprating is based, ...”.
No, I had specifically addressed the problem as CPI (Consumer Price Index). There is no such thing as Central Payment Index.
b) “In … letter of 25 April regarding a shortfall of 0.01 following uprating, ...” .
They have missed the units of currency out, made it look like a loss of 0.01p rather than £0.01.
c) “The CPI is used as a guide when benefits are updated and are not an exact determinant”.
No, firstly the statement said that MP's had already agreed there would be a 5.2% increase in benefits. Secondly, policy guides (or guidelines) are used when you are planning ahead without knowing specific details of implementation. However, when specific details are known, you would use an exact methodology. thirdly, a school maths pupil could work out 5.2% of a principle sum more exactly than the DWP, without rounding errors.

What does the conclusion of their letter amount to? That I can walk into a shop. Hand the cashier some money in exchange for goods, slightly short of the full total. Then declare to the shopkeeper that guidelines do not have to be exact and walk out of the store? The shopkeeper would say that is theft, so where is my position with the Department of Works and Pension?

As a person suffering loss of employment,why should I have to motivate others in employment to do their job properly?

I had been given six months to further my complaint, but in that time, the chancellor and the secretary of state for works and pensions have fast-tracked their escape by attempting a 'cap' of 1% on next three years benefits, without linking it to the inflation rate.

{What prompted them to make this move? Was my complaint leaked back to MP's? I am also suffering considerably the feeling that my communication with the DWP is being leaked all over government.}

{This is so terrible,} they do not appear to have cause for concern over the hardship that they are boastfully mocking and intimidating. Hardship does not go away just to save their department money. All they have done, since forming a government, is 'think of a number and make it smaller' – so long as it is other peoples money. Hardship is a severe micro-economic problem and they are attempting to put it in the macro-economic arena. That's what the new Prime Minister said he would do, he said he would concentrate on macro-economics. Now the department of works and pensions is making weekly benefit handouts equal to these macro-economic problems.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  UK-Justice replied 3 years ago.
Thanks for your question, I will do whatever I can to help you. Please remember to rate my answer SMILEY FACE OR ABOVE.

May I ask what your question is of me today about this?

What is it you want to achieve?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.


I want the matter of benefits shortfall to be investigated. They have supplied me a contact address. I am suspicious as to why it is taking so much effort to correct.


 


Then I need advice on ministers move to cap benefits further over next three years? I may need to question the ethical value of what the law says you are allowed to live on.


 


Can I find out if the DWP leaked details of my complaint to ministers? It is often I have such worries?

Expert:  UK-Justice replied 3 years ago.
You can't find out if your complaint has been leaked.

All you can do in that regard if you know it has (not that you just suspect) is complain to the Information Commissioner.

They deal with breaches of the Data Protection Act. They can be found at: www.ico.gov.uk

In terms of the decision to cap benefits then all you can do is seek a Judicial Review.

This is where the Court considers the decision and see whether it is legal and reasonable.

A Court can affirm, quash or change that decision.

The Court can also declare, where applicable, that any decision or legislation is not compatible with Human Rights.

The Court can see if they took into account irrelevant factors or failed to take into account relevant factors.

But you would need a Solicitor to draft proceedings and present your argument in Court as there are Court rules and protocols to follow.

But Judicial Review is where the Courts can examine decisions made and see if they are reasonable and legal.

But this is the ONLY legal action you can take.

I realise that this is stressful but hope this helps.

Please remember to click *** OK SERVICE *** or above so that I am credited for my time. The question does not close and you can ask follow ups.

Important: If you feel the need to rate as one of the lower two scores, it counts as negative feedback so please reply to me via the REPLY with any further questions you may have. I will be happy to assist you further.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

How would I seek a Judicial Review? Say some of that evidence I provide may have already been 'leaked' already and adopted by other parts of Government. Then I would need to contact this Information Commissioner before I request a judicial review? That sounds long and complicated.


 


I am not used to forming an argument based on Human Rights - I feel the government already has a upper hand. Has not the government just pulled out of some EU human rights laws?


 


How about my original complaint of £0.01 shortfall per week? Its like 'making a mountain out of a molehill' really. Can I include any argument or statement that its is their job to get these things right and not for the (unemployed) public to chase after them? Could I recover my costs involved?

Expert:  UK-Justice replied 3 years ago.
You would need to see a Solicitor to start a Judicial Review on the grounds I have suggested.

It may be that you get legal aid.

The Information Commissioner is entirely separate argument - for that you need some evidence that your complaint has been leaked.

You can include your 1p argument as well yes.

If you win you would be entitled to costs.

If you lose you would be required to pay those of the other side.

I hope this clarifies.


Please remember to click *** OK SERVICE *** or above so that I am credited for my time. The question does not close and you can ask follow ups.

Important: If you feel the need to rate as one of the lower two scores, it counts as negative feedback so please reply to me via the REPLY with any further questions you may have. I will be happy to assist you further.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Yes, thanks for the answer. That will get me started.


Yes, I hope I still have the evidence of 'known leaks'. It is a question of if I can prove that it was more than coincidence that I had two pieces of evidence bearing similarity.


 


The DWP have given me six months to reply. Would I use a solicitor to make that reply, or would I write to DWP and inform them that I intend to contact a solicitor and initiate a judicial review?


 


Would the solicitor inform the judicial review that some of the argument may have been already 'leaked' or would I need to consult the Information Commissioner and have their advice before a judicial review commences?

Expert:  UK-Justice replied 3 years ago.
Yes inform the DWP you intend to Judicially Review the decision.

You need to complain to the ICO before you seek JR on that part.

I hope this clarifies.



Please remember to click *** OK SERVICE *** or above so that I am credited for my time. The question does not close and you can ask follow ups.

Important: If you feel the need to rate as one of the lower two scores, it counts as negative feedback so please reply to me via the REPLY with any further questions you may have. I will be happy to assist you further.
Expert:  UK-Justice replied 3 years ago.
I'm just following up with you to see how everything is going. Did my answer help?

UK-Justice

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