Ladies and gentlemen, may I introduce a new contender in the Great Benefits Cock-Up... Waveney District Council!
Regular readers may recall that a couple of weeks ago I was feeling quite relieved that I had finished dealing with the benefits stuff and that "all" I had to do was contact the council, who manage the housing benefit, to change the designation on my file from "Disabled - in receipt of DLA" to "Disabled - in receipt of long-term Incapacity Benefit". After taking soundings from blog commenters, family, and real-world friends, I went for the double safety of writing a clear letter explaining the situation, but taking it into the offices in person and getting a receipt as well.
A letter arrived from Waveney District Council today, a surprise in itself as today is not a Saturday. It informed me that due to my change in circumstances, my housing benefit would be suspended as of the first week in August. It asked me to provide additional information (such as bank statements) and to please fill out the enclosed form and return it within fourteen days.
First Cock-Up: I thoroughly searched the envelope and both sides of the letter and found nothing at all resembling the alleged "enclosed form".
Luckily my stepdad was able to offer me a lift to the Council offices to try and sort things out. I got signed in at reception and was given a number. Then I sat down in the waiting area with my knitting, which incidentally is a great ice-breaker in a setting like that.
Second Cock-Up: They forgot me. I sat quietly and knitted for about an hour before deciding to go up to the desk and check that I had got my number right.
Me: I think I'm number 36 but my brain's not up to much, could you check?
Her: What's your name?
Her: Yes, you're 36. Oh dear. We seem to have forgotten you.
After reminding them of my existence, I was seen quite quickly and given a form. A whole new application form. Seems that they can't just change my designation, they need to renew my claim.
Back home and filling in the form, I got to the Third Thing, which in fairness wasn't so much a Waveney District Council thing as a JobcentrePlus thing. The Form requires an exact breakdown of my income, and I don't have handy the precise amount of Incapacity Benefit that I get. So, I decided to phone up and ask.
Third Cock-Up: The computer systems for Incapacity Benefit at the DWP were down and had been for most of the day. So no one could log in to check. Apparently I should try again tomorrow.
I've completed pretty much all of the form now, and hopefully I will be able to get that last bit of information and take it back to them either tomorrow or the next day. I feel utterly drained though.