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Hello my name is Alex and I will help you with this. Please note that I am a working Solicitor and may be on and offline as I have to attend Court and meet with clients, even at weekends. As such you may not get an instant response when you reply as this is not an ‘on demand’ live service, but rest assured I will be giving your question my immediate attention upon return.
How much are they say is owing in total? Have you appealed any of the benefit overpayment decisions please?
They have agreed that the over payment was their error and that they had broken the law. They also informed me that I was entitled to some Housing benefit and would receive full council tax benefit.
Yes. If you are entitled to full HB won't the Council Tax bills be wiped off?
This week I received a Council Tax bill minus a small deduction for benefit not the 100% they informed me. I did make a complaint but withdrew the complaint when they reversed their original decision. The real problem is that I believed the for 18 months that the money I receive as Pension and Working Tax Credits was mine and made financial commitments I now cannot meet. As the council lied to me when the error was discovers and have continued to mislead or lie could I claim compensation for the difficult the council has placed me?
You have received a letter from the Council saying you are entitled to full benefit?
No. Though they promised to do so they have not. Verbally they have informed me that I am entitled to a portion of Housing benefit and 100% council tax benefit. This week the have again change their story and now say I am not entitled to full council tax benefit.
Then you need to get that decision in writing and APPEAL that.
You have a limited time to appeal a decision but the correct thing to do is follow that process and appeal.
The matter will then go before an independent Tribunal who will decide whether you are entitled to benefit or not and if there hasbeen an overpayment whether or not it is an official error.
If it is an official error then you will not have to pay it back.
But the Tribunal may find you are entitled to 100% benefit and then the Council Tax bills would be cancelled out.
But if you believe your cirucmstances have not changed then you do not need to pay the Council Tax bills.
If you appeal and lose, then you would obviously have to backpay those Council Tax bills.
Can I clarify anything for you about this today please?
The argument is not that the council decision is wrong, I believe they are now correct. The original error was the councils 18 months ago and over the past 18 months I have believed the my income and benefits were correct. I have made financial commitments that I can no longer meet. If the Council had carried out the right procedures 18 months ago I would not be in the financial difficulty I am now. My question is that should I expect compensation for the problem they have caused.
How much are you looking for?
Several million would be nice but I am not that daft. I am in debt to about £3,000 that I was paying until all this happened and now I will not be in a position to pay. I should imagine that I will be made bankrupt as it is either the Council tax or bills. I would accept i years Council tax, that is less then the £3,000
I do not think you would get several million. However I do think you would get around £500.
But the process you need to follow is that you need to write (not email or call) and make a formal complaint to the Chief Executive of the Council. The complaint will be investigated by someone in that department.
If when they reply you are not happy then you can complaint to a body called the Local Government Ombudsman. They are nothing to do with the Council and will review your complaint. They will either uphold your complaint or dismiss it. They also have the power to recommend the Council compensate you. Their website is at www.lgo.org.uk but they would expect you to complain to the Council first.
Can I clarify anything about this for you today please?
I did make a complaint and withdrew it because I was informed that I would have to make a contribution to the rent but would receive 100% council tax. What really annoys me is the lies and failing to put their reposes in writing.
This is why you need to make a formal complaint now in writing and then if not successful complain to the Ombudsman.
That was the route I was heading - looks like I will have to begin again
I am sorry to say yes.
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If I could invite you to rate my service before you leave today, hopefully it has been excellent. If you do need more help or information please click reply. Thanks – Alex.