A couple received a “shocking and distressing” extra Christmas present – a visit from the bailiffs – who later admitted they got the wrong address.
Paul and Kath Spenceley, from Middlesbrough, said bailiffs “bashed at their door” on Christmas Eve while they were out before leaving a note asking for £3,500.
The couple, of Endsleigh Drive, Acklam, said they were left confused and upset by the letter – before realising it wasn’t meant for them.
Mrs Spenceley, 51, an executive assistant for Redcar and Cleveland Council, said:
“The neighbours told me that they were bashing really hard on the door and making a scene.
“They then posted the note which was from the Sheriff’s Office.
“We were so confused when we read it. We have always paid our bills. We were so upset – it’s not nice to read that you owe £3,500 – especially on Christmas Eve. Then we realised they had the wrong address.”
Mrs Spenceley said she rang the office and left messages but never heard anything back.
“I am worried they haven’t realised the error and they might come back again. Next time they could actually get inside and start taking things. I have been so panicked all over Christmas. How could they get something like that so wrong?”
Mrs Spenceley said she later took the letter to the house it was addressed to.
A spokesman for the Sheriff’s Office said:
“It was human error and we apologise for any distress caused. There wasn’t any bashing at the door. We knocked and then posted the letter.
“I received a message from the occupants telling us of the error and we advise that they put the letter in the bin.”
Source – Middlesbrough Evening Gazette, 31 Dec 2014
> More smear tactics, courtesy of the Daily Excess – “hunt down” all those benefit fraudsters who are the real cause of all ills. You know it makes sense (to Excess readers, anyway…)
The Government has brought together officials from the Department of Work and Pensions, the tax office and local authorities to tackle the crime.
The streamlined approach goes hand-in-hand with powers unveiled earlier this year to clamp down on benefit fraud, including using bailiffs to confiscate high-value possessions from convicted benefit cheats.
> Now there’s a tactic which would work better against all those tax-cheating individuals and companies… but somehow they never get around to them.
Minister for Welfare Reform Lord Freud said: “Reducing benefit fraud and error in the system is a crucial plank of our welfare reforms to make work pay and the system fairer for everyone.
“By bringing teams from local authorities and HMRC into our investigation service we will be able to build on the hard work we’ve already done to crack down on benefit fraud.
“Alongside this change, Universal Credit is expected to reduce losses due to fraud by £1billion in five years when it is fully in place across the country.”
> Ha ha ha – Universal Credit is the biggest benefit fraud of all, millions spent on it and it still doesn’t work. If they’d not embarked on it, there’d be plenty of money for benefits.
The new service went live in nine local authority areas on Tuesday July 1 and will be rolled out across the country in the autumn.
It started in Corby, Cornwall, Cardiff, Southampton, Oldham, Hillingdon, Wrexham, Blaenau Gwent and East Ayrshire.
Joint investigations between local authorities and the Government have already led to a string of convictions, including Alycia Mallett from Broxbourne in Hertfordshire who admitted falsely claiming £35,700 in benefits while working as an escort.
She was given eight weeks’ custody suspended for 12 months in April at Stevenage Crown Court.
Source – Daily Express, 04 July 2014
> NOT included in the Excess article –
Fiction: People believe that some 27% of the Welfare Budget is claimed as a result of fraud
Fact: The actual figure is 0.8 % whilst tax avoidance and evasion is estimated at anywhere from £30bn to £120bn.
> So far its only individuals who are reaching the point of no return. How long before whole sectors of society blow up ?
A father of four children threatened to ‘blow up’ his own home yesterday (4 June 2014) as he faced eviction due to the government’s controversial ‘bedroom tax’ housing policy.
52 year-old Michael Hilton from Church, East Lancashire, had been living in his social home for 30 years before being ‘hounded’ by his social landlord, Hyndburn Homes, to cover the shortfall in his rent since September 2013.
Mr Hilton was told that he would have to contribute toward the cost of his rent because a spare bedroom in his home was not being used, even though his children sometimes occupied the bedroom when they came to visit.
Bailiffs reported the incident to the police who arrived at the property with six cars, two police vans, police dogs, a riot van and two fire engines.
Mr Hilton’s distressed wife and son, Johnny, looked from behind police barriers as Michael barricaded himself in the property and refused to leave.
Onlookers soon gathered at the scene with one witness saying: “It’s the government this is. They are putting these taxes on vulnerable and poor people and look what happens.”
Another onlooker told the Lancashire Telegraph: “It’s been his home for 30 years. It’s a bit extreme but no-one would want to be thrown out like that”.
A police negotiator was sent to the house to try to convince Mr Hilton to leave the property voluntarily. However, police say that a decision was eventually reached to force entry into the house and detain Mr Hilton.
Mr Hilton’s 29 year-old son Johnny, said: “I knew something like this was going to happen. He has been hounded to pay bedroom tax since September last year.
“My dad has four children altogether and, sometimes, they stay here with him.
“In the eyes of the council, he has a spare room but, from his point of view, that’s a bedroom for his kids.
“I have even tried to speak to the council myself and try to sort it out. I called them last week and told them that my dad has mental health problems. He thinks he’s being persecuted.”
“He has been driven to this and I think that he feels like he is making a stand for everyone that has been faced with the unfair bedroom tax. I am very worried about him.”
Nigel Fenton, managing director of Hyndburn Homes, said:
“Any repossession of a tenant’s home is always an absolute last resort and would only happen after we have repeatedly attempted to resolve the issues and help them.
“We always try to support our tenants and assist them in any way that we can. We would always urge our tenants to discuss problems with us so that we can provide our support.
“Staff from Hyndburn Homes were at the scene and worked with the emergency services to ensure the safety of residents in the area.
“We have been made aware of gas cylinders at the rear of the property and we have been working with officers from the council to resolve this matter.”
A spokesman for Lancashire Police said:
“We were very concerned as there was a suggestion that there was petrol inside the property and we had also heard reports that he had a large number of gas canisters with him.
“We sent a negotiator in to reason with him but eventually, a decision was taken to enter the house and detain the man.”
Source – Welfare News Service, 05 June 2014
This article was written by Patrick Wintour, political editor, for theguardian.com on Friday 14th March 2014
Bailiffs are to be given access to benefit claimants’ credit reference records in an effort to clamp down on bogus claims.
The move is aimed at making it easier to confiscate high-value possessions if claimants have failed to pay back fraudulently claimed benefits.
The latest sweeping power was given to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) late last year and follows the controversial decision to give HMRC access to all claimants’ credit reference records.
Until last year the DWP only had access to credit reference records on an ad hoc basis if there was reasonable suspicion of benefit fraud, but the DWP now has complete access to credit reference data.
No 10 predicted cars, luxury items and state-of-the-art TVs belonging to “those who have stolen money through dishonest claims” would be targeted.
> A declaration that ought to have had all those MPs who dishonestly claimed expenses sweating. If only , of course, it applied to the rich as well.
It is estimated that £1.2bn was lost to benefit fraud last year and ministers are determined to do more to get that money back. Downing Street claims recent cases have found individuals claiming multiple benefits for years despite having full-time jobs, property portfolios and undeclared capital.
> Is this really true ? Given how many hoops the average claimant has to jump through just to get basic help, how do people get away with this alledged fraud on a massive scale ? I wish they’d share the secret…
Of course its probably just another bit of spin – some people fraudulently claim benefit, therefore all benefit claimants are probably suspect, seems to be the implication.
The new power means fraudulent claimants will see their benefits repaid through the sale of their assets.
Downing Street said the use of bailiffs would act as a strong deterrent and encourage more people to make arrangements to pay back what they owed without the knock on the door.
Benefits can be – and are already – docked to recover fraud debt.
This year has seen the launch of a publicity campaign to encourage more people to correct errors in their benefit claims early and to persuade members of the public to report suspected benefited cheats.
A No 10 spokesperson said: “Getting the welfare budget under control is a key part of our long-term plan for the economy. We want to end the something-for-nothing culture and deliver for people who want to work hard and play by the rules.”
In December 2011 the HMRC said it was to draw on the expertise of credit reference agencies to tackle fraud and error. The departments have signed a 12-month contract with Experian.
Source – Welfare News Service, 14 March 2014