Dear Department for Work and Pensions,
As you may or may not know, central government, during the Coalition, cut the funding for councils and as a result, Councils, in 2012 resorted to making demands on those of us on benefits to start paying 20% of our future council tax bill from our benefits.
Your organisation also have the rights to take and assess requests from the council on attachments of earnings for council tax arrears and you have done so for a long time.
Q1. Was your organisation made aware of all Councils decision around 2012 to demand (with threats, including jail) of this decision? When was the DWP told? Were you consulted over it prior to the decision being implemented. At all?
Q2. When somebody puts a claim in for any benefit, the chosen adjudication officer looks at the claims and makes awards on the amount that the claimant should receive.
Not only do they make a decision, they state the FACT that the amount awarded is because "This is the amount the law says you need to live on".
So, with that in mind...
Q1. Were any steps taken to re-evaluate all claims where council tax was required to be paid from benefits awarded due to the amounts needed to live on being reduced through the new decision to force contributions to council tax bills?
Q2. If the answer to Q1 is "No", please can you explain?
Q2. Did anybody in the DWP check with councils and government to see if the request to demand 20% council tax payments from benefits was legal ?
Q3. Did you have a duty, legal or otherwise to carry out the question put to you in Q2?
Q4. According to my local council, the DWP set the amounts which are to be deducted from benefits on Council Tax arrears.
This, establishes that you, as an agency have total control over our spending needs/ requirements with regards to outside organisations/ debts.
Which keeps bringing me back to Q2 & Q3. Would it therefore make sense for you to have checked the legal status of
the new council tax policy implemented in 2012?
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Dear DWP - HPD FOI's,
Thank you for your very detailed response.
It was as I expected. You have no control over other organisations actions. Although it may not come as a surprise, it is worrying to see nobody could act upon it. Or question it.
The bottom line is, people had to find extra money on what was already a tight budget or face threats and jail from a regime of cruel dictatorship. AKA councils.
All I ask for is a fairer system.