Ombudsman Reform and Remedies

The very final tier that any complaint about a public body can ascend to is the Ombudsman. These are government bodies, accountable to the Public Accounts Committee, who determine whether maladministration has been caused by a public body and, if so, what redress is necessary. There are a myriad of different ombudsman each with a slightly different remit, which often confuses complainants, making it difficult to identify which body to complain to. In addition the Ombudsman will not investigate complaints that can be resolved via legal redress.

In this blog post I have outlined the new draft bill to simplify the Ombudsman system. I will then give an example of the common problems faced and then state how continual improvement can be made.  Continue reading

Westminster council Housing Benefit assessment confusion

As a complaint caseworker, it is my job to identify trends where organisations have persistently made the same mistakes. A growing trend among my work is the mis-management by local authorities of assessing peoples’ housing benefit who are self-employed or have a fluctuating income.

There is a growing reluctance amongst local authorities such as Westminster Council to apply the Right to Reside test fully for EU housing benefit claimants. Westminster Council housing benefit assessments processes for those on fluctuating income often take several months to assess. Over the period of the assessment the claimant is bombarded with requests for repeat information, questions asked are often unspecific, leading to further more detailed information needing to be provided. Questions asked are often irrelevant to the requirements of assessing people for right to reside status. Continue reading

Case Study: Verifying residents & Housing Benefit maladministration

The word administration, can invoke a sense of the everyday. However good administration is essential in our lives and can have severe consequences when not implemented correctly. My recent case which has been adjudicated by the Ombudsman demonstrates just how checking evidence for proof of entitlement and arranging effective visits is key to making sure housing benefit claims remain in payment. Continue reading

Case Study: Universal Credit and administrative errors

dwpUniversal Credits continues to slowly creep through the boroughs of London. The introduction of the new system is not without its difficulties. A persons’ claim is administered by two people – their Jobcentre Advisor and an Online Claim Administer. Although greater responsibility is handed to the Jobcentre staff, training has not caught up and full entitlements have not been added to claimant’s benefits. The following case highlights the difficulties faced by claimants at Hounslow Job Centre. Continue reading

JSA, Sanctions & Reasonable Adjustments

THE JOB CENTRE IN CAMBRIDGE  TODAY MARCH 14TH AS IT WAS ANNOUNCED THAT UNEMPLOYMENT ROSE BY 28,000.As a complaint caseworker at Z2K, I regularly come across clients who have to claim Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) whist awaiting an outcome of their Mandatory Reconsideration (MR) for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). MR has been with us since October 2013, but the same problems are always recurrent. Although new legislation has been brought in to implement the changes, regulations and policy have not caught up to add extra safeguards for clients. Of particular concern is the failure to detect and make reasonable adjustments within clients’ JSA claimant commitments. Continue reading