Telephone claims and access to data
I have a client who was being paid housing costs through HB until claiming UC about two years ago. UC has apparently never included the HCE which, in turn, is apparently because UC have been insisting that he provides a written tenancy agreement. He is unable to do this because he doesn’t have one and his landlord (fairly understandably) does not want to draft one because he is actively taking steps to evict the client. The client now has a possession hearing in a month where it looks likely he will lose his home if UC don’t pay the full HCE from the start of the claim.
Ordinarily in a case like this, I would want to have a dig through the journal to figure out what specifically had happened in terms of decision making and see where, if anywhere, a challenge can be directed in terms of official error or whatever else. The problem is that the claim is being dealt with as a telephone claim, so there is no journal and whoever picks up the phone at the DWP is hardly likely to be prepared to walk me line by line through everything which has happened since the start of the claim.
I realise that one possibility is to have the client make a subject access request so we can get the paper trail, but is there anything else worth considering to get to the bottom of this?
Do you have the facility to make conference calls, I have found this very useful when they ask ‘is the cl with you?’
I’m sure you have already thought of this but is the landlord evicting them for non payment of rent- if they are and they have possession order then the court must be satisfied that there was a de facto tenancy or a licence
Thanks Pete. Yeah I was able to speak to the helpline via conference call last week and I am trying to get the documents we have which conclusively demonstrate the liability over to them. I have little doubt we will be able to get the HCE into payment going forward and perhaps even get some backdating but my client is still going to be in a tight spot if we can only clear half of the rent account. This is why I am looking towards arguments based on official error or maladministration in the handling of the claim which might go back further but it is difficult to do that unless they are just going to volunteer that they made a mistake.
As you say, I doubt a telephone advisor will be able or willing to take you through previous phones calls and your suggestion of a SAR could work to get the info you need. In the SAR spell out you also want copies of all voice recordings included. Who knows if they repsond to the SAR in full within a month or try to go for the additional two months becasue it is complicated!.
Possibly in tandem with the SAR think about using the complaint process, provided you don’t think that will do more harm than good and will it be any quicker or more helpful than the SAR.
No quick or easy route[ Edited: 15 Feb 2021 at 03:46 pm by Mkfiftyeight ]