So much for wondering how I'm going to fill the hour or so per day that I've spent doing my DLA forms for the last few weeks.
This morning, as I was sat on the staircase putting my coat on in order to go to the Post Office and send my Enormous Wodge Of Paperwork, the postie arrived and shoved a brown envelope through my letterbox.
It's from HM Revenue and Customs, Tax Credit Office.
Click here for the previous episode.
The short version is:
2005 - 2006: I owe them £500, which I would happily pay, except I do not have it due to becoming ill, loss of job, going onto benefit, etc. They defer payment. They ask for this £500 every three months or so. I still do not have it. They defer payment. And again. And again.
At the end of 2006, they send me letters saying I don't owe them anything, £0.00, zero balance. Woohoo! I don't hear from them for the entirety of 2007. Huzzah! I figure my debt must have expired.
2008: they demand payment of £500, immediately, or else legal action. WTF? I ring them up. They send me a form for disputing overpayments. I write to them explaining that I don't deny that I did owe them £500, once, but that in 2006 they wrote to me telling me I don't owe it any more, and I think it's a bit nasty of them to suddenly change their minds and threaten me with legal action.
Today's letter was basically an explanation of how I came to owe them £500 in the first place.
I already knew that bit. I'm not disputing that bit. I'm disputing whether it's okay for them to go "You don't owe us any money any more. *pause* Whoops! actually, you DO owe us money, after all."
No mention is made of the letters (which I sent them copies of) that told me I owe nothing.
It just says that I owe them the money, and, direct quote here, "You cannot appeal against the decision to recover your overpayment."
So tomorrow, I must phone them and explain in great detail about how my income does not cover my essential living expenses (rent, electricity, water). I suspect that we will then enter the deferral cycle again.
Meanwhile, I enter into a written-correspondence argument with the "Customer Service and Support Group Officer" who was unlucky enough to sign this latest letter to me. Who thinks I should finish my letter with a demand for a copy of their complaints procedure?