Last week we reported on a false rent book used by Hackney Council in a case against one of our clients. Z2K are still assisting Mr O’Shaughnessy to pursue a formal complaint, and to seek an explanation.
Our Caseworker Yiannis Voyias recently secured an excellent outcome for one of our clients. The account below shows how persistence and determination can pay off. However, many vulnerable debtors on low incomes, such as Ms M, lack the resources to fight for a satisfactory conclusion. Sadly this case is not isolated and organisations such as ourselves cannot help everybody; so a more efficient, reliable and compassionate system is clearly needed.
Ms M, was referred to us from Women Against Rape. She is a single mother from Burundi suffering from post traumatic stress because her husband was murdered and she had been raped and tortured. She received a Council Tax bill for a period in 2009, when she had made a council tax benefit claim, but LB Islington had lost all the papers, so no benefit was awarded. The bills exacerbated her stress problems, and so did LB Islington’s aggressive approach to the problem – taking her to court twice. Z2k working with a local Councillor Greg Foxsmith managed to convince Islington to put enforcement on hold both times since we were in the middle of addressing the issues. After being told repeatedly that LB Islington cannot backdate benefit claims more than 6 months, we requested that the debt (around £400) be written off completely. This was also refused several times , but after requesting an Internal review, and notifying them of our intention to appeal even further to the Valuation Tribunal Islington they decided to write off all the debt.