It seems the answer to the above question is “yes”.
Readers may recall that Mrs Mike received a letter from the Department for Work and Pensions’ ‘compliance unit’ at the end of last month, announcing that our home would be invaded by a ‘compliance officer’ on December 3.
Particularly disturbing was the following passage:
“What will happen if we do not hear from you?
“If you fail to be available for this visit and do not contact me, your entitlement to benefit may be in doubt and your payments will be stopped.
“If there has been an unreported change in your circumstances then any overpayment will have to be paid back. Further, you may be liable for financial penalties.”
The letter put Mrs Mike on the verge of panic – terrified that this ‘customer compliance officer’ was being sent to find any excuse to say she was ‘fit for work’ and throw her off the benefit
In response, and thanks to a friend who signposted us to information on the Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) website, Mrs Mike told the DWP, in terms only slightly more polite than what follows here, to get stuffed.
You see, the information provided to her showed that any letter causing her considerable distress and exacerbating her illness, as this had, put the DWP in a very actionable position. She was able to respond: “Should the DWP persist in sending me further letters of a similar nature I can only conclude that it does so knowing that it will cause me alarm or distress. Such actions are a criminal offence under section 2 of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 and I retain the right to make a criminal complaint to the police.”
In addition, she said she was entirely happy to conform to all legal requirements.
Would you believe we had a telephone call from a DWP ‘compliance manager’ today (December 23)?
It was from one of those ‘Out of area’ numbers that we never ever answer, but fortunately she left a message and I called her back.
She could not apologise enough for the upset that had been caused to Mrs Mike.
She said there was no allegation of wrong-doing; it was a purely-routine reassessment.
She said she had already sent a letter assuring Mrs Mike that she need not be worried over the Christmas period; this call was to ascertain whether she would be happy to submit her reassessment in writing, so we would have a copy for our records, to be returned by the end of January.
The whole episode made a welcome change from the usual antagonism – although we should all know it’s just a ceasefire – hostilities will undoubtedly recommence soon.
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