My name: Ripon Ray. I am a consumer debt and welfare rights specialist. I am a regular contributor to James Cannon's advice and information show on BBC Sussex. I have been on BBC Money Box, BBC London Radio and LBC.
I trained London's Institute of Money Advisors, Trust for London grants managers, Positive Money campaigners on a number of money and welfare rights related issues. I specialise in universal credit and am a registered money trainer with the Money Advice Trust.
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--------MANDATORY CONSIDERATION LETTER--------
Client name AND NINO HERE
Failure to Attend Work Capability Assessment
Decision date: DATE HERE
I am writing to request a reconsideration for the decision
made by Secretary of State to terminate CLIENT NAME ‘SEmployment
and Support Allowance due to his failure to attend his Work Capability
to attend his Work Capacity Assessment due to
never receiving correspondence which would have informed himof
the date and time. NAME HEREhas since
made an official complaint to Royal Mail on 04/06/2017 and is awaiting the
result of the investigation. Had NAME HEREreceived
the notice informing him of the date and time of the assessment, there is no
doubt he would have attended.
NAME HEREhas had
numerous problems with receiving post from the Secretary of State which NAME HEREhas reported to the Department when they also never
received their ESA50. We therefore believe that NAME HERE has shown “good cause” in
line with Regulation 23 of the Employment and Support Allowance Regulations
2008 which provides:
(2) Subject to paragraph
(3), where a claimant fails without good cause to attend for or to
submit to an examination … the claimant is to be treated as not having [limited
capability for work / limited capability for work-related activity]
(3) Paragraph (2) does not
apply unless - (a) written notice of the date, time and place for the
examination was sent to the claimant at least seven days in advance; or (b)
that the claimant agreed to accept a shorter period of notice whether given in
writing or otherwise.
The Secretary has failed to discharge the burden of proof to
show that they sent an invitation to NAME HEREseven
days in advance as no substantial evidence has been provided (CIB/721/2004) to
the contrary. Furthermore NAME HEREhas shown
that they have had good cause for non-attendance which is in line with caselaw:
Case CH/35402/2005 stated that good cause included non-receipt of a document
from the relevant department. CUC/1067/2018 also went on to dictate that the
notion of “good cause” does not allow a claimant who fails to attend an
interview due to not receiving notification to be sanctioned.
SMALL SUMMARY OF ANY SPECIAL CIRCIMSTANCES OR HEALTH
CONDITIONS TO BE CONSIDERED AT TIME OF DECISION HERE.It’s believed that the above should also be taken
into consideration when determining whether NAME HERE has good cause for
Taking into account the above, it’s respectfully asked that
this reconsideration is accepted with a view to granting NAME HERE a fresh
assessment date and reinstating their claim.
-----HOUSING BENEFIT STOPPED DUE TO ESA STOPPING REQUEST TO REINSTATE DUE TO APPEAL LETTER------
Housing Benefit Section
5 Clove Crescent
Date: DATE HERE
Re: Request to reinstate Housing Benefit
The above named client came to us for assistance regarding
their Housing and benefits. Our client has recently had their Employment and
Support Allowance stopped and is therefore without any income.
Our client suffers from (insert health conditions/circumstances here). They are incapable of working and are
currently challenging the decision to stop their ESA.
There has been no other change in their circumstances. It’s
kindly asked that Housing Benefit is continued and (clients name)’s income is recorded
as nil whilst the challenge is underway. We will update you regarding the
progress of the appeal in due course.
(INSERT NAME HERE)
(ATTACH FOA BEFORE SENDING)
-----SAMPLE APPLICATION LETTER FOR A DISCRETIONARY REDUCTION
UNDER SECTION 13A(1)(c)-------
To: Council Tax Department / Finance Department
[INSERT ADDRESS OF COUNCIL]
RE: [CLIENT NAME]
RE: Council Tax Account Number
RE: [CLIENT ADDRESS]
RE: Application for council tax discretionary
reduction under section 13A(1)(c) Local Government Finance Act 1992
I am writing on behalf of the above named client to apply
for discretionary reduction in the amount of council tax under section
13(A)(1)(c) of the Local Government Finance Act 1992. Please find enclosed a
signed letter of authority and consent authorising us to act on their behalf in
[CLIENT NAME] is the owner / occupier of the above property
and is the person liable for council tax.
This is separate to any entitlement they may have under the
local council tax reduction scheme.
Accordingly, please treat this letter as an application for
a discretionary reduction on the above property on which [CLIENT NAME] pays
council tax. The reasons for applying for a discretionary reduction are as
[FILL IN / DELETE AS APPLICABLE]:
I request that you take the following into
[LIST ANY SPECIAL FACTORS RELATING TO HARDSHIP OR
VULNERABILITY e.g . MEDICAL CONDITIONS, DISABILITY, EFFECT ON CHILDREN AND
VULNERABLE ADULTS ALSO RESIDENT IN THE PROPERTY]
I include the following evidence I wish you to consider
[INCLUDE COPIES OF DEBTS, REPORTS, MEDICAL REPORTS,
STATEMENTS OF EXPENDITURE, SAVING AND MEANS, COPIES OF LETTERS FROM OTHER
PEOPLE IN SUPPORT]
Naturally, I hope that you will be agreeable to awarding a
discretionary reduction in this case.
Please note, in the event you do not accept this
application [CLIENT NAME] is entitled to appeal to the Valuation Tribunal
England under section 16 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 as necessary.
Thank you for your consideration and attention, I look
forward to hearing from you within 8 weeks of the date of this
DWP Legal Advisors
Government Legal Department
2nd Floor, Caxton House
Re: Proposed claim for judicial review against the Secretary of State
for Work and Pensions (DWP) by
instructed by … in relation to a claim for Universal Credit (UC). We write in accordance with the Pre-action
Protocol for judicial review. Please note that we are requesting your response
as soon as possible and in any event no later than 5pm on the date at the end
of this letter.
Defendant: The Secretary of State for Work
Date of Birth:
The details of the matter being challenged
Failure on the part of the DWP
to provide a decision within a reasonable time or at all regarding X’s request
for a mandatory reconsideration of the decision not to award Universal Credit
is a single woman suffering from
immigration status (if relevant)
7.contacts with DWP
8.effect on X
1: Unreasonable delay in providing a mandatory reconsideration decision
9.The Defendant is under a duty to consider all claims for benefit
within a “reasonable time” – R(C and W) v
Secretary of State for Work and Pensions  EWHC 1607 (Admin).
10.The duty to make a decision within a reasonable time applies equally toS.9 of the Social Security Act 1998 (SSA 1998) under which
Secretary of State may “revise” any decision made under s.8 or s.10, as to the analogous
provision at s.8 under which the Secretary of State shall “decide any claim for
a relevant benefit”.
counts as a reasonable time depends on all the circumstances, including the
impact on the claimant.
on the claimant
12.X’s mental health forced her to leave full-time education and also
prevents her from working.
She has no income without UC.
13.The failure to provide a decision in response to X’s request for a mandatory reconsideration has caused X hardship.
The delay relates to a decision on UC entitlement. UC is a
subsistence benefit which includes amounts for housing. Delays in UC decisions
can therefore have severe consequences for the claimant, leaving them with no
income to fall back on, without money for food or heating, unable to pay their
rent and so at risk of homelessness and
destitution. The failure to review the
decision to close X’s UC claim caused X stress and anxiety when she was already experiencing what?.
Non-complex case/all information available
14.X is eligible for UC. She clearly meets, and met, the conditions of entitlement as set out
in s. 4 of the Welfare Reform Act 2012:
the purposes of section 3, a person meets the basic conditions who—
is at least 18 years old,
has not reached the qualifying age for state pension credit,
is in Great Britain,
is not receiving education,…
15.This is not a complex case and there is no
reason for the delay. X has provided clear and compelling evidence to the
effect that she was and is eligible for UC. It should be easy for the
Secretary of State to re-consider whether or not her initial decision was
Purpose of mandatory reconsideration process
of relevance to the circumstances and therefore what constitutes a reasonable
or unreasonable delay is, the statutory
purpose for introducing the mandatory reconsideration process. According to the
Government’s consultation paper, the stated purpose “to deliver timely, proportionate and effective justice for
claimants, make the process for disputing a decision fairer and more
(emphasis added). The delay in this case due to the failure to accept C’s
request for a mandatory reconsideration and the consequent frustration of C’s
appeal rights clearly fails to deliver on this stated purpose and is therefore
Ground 2: Procedural irregularity
17.It is clear that a
mandatory reconsideration of an UC can be requested by telephone.
18.This is confirmed on the Defendant’s own publicly
accessible “How Benefits Work” webpages :
“How to ask for mandatory
Contact the benefits office that gave you the
decision. You can contact them:
The contact details are on your decision letter.”
19.This is further confirmed by the Defendant’s own
“The Mandatory Reconsideration process:
A claimant is able to request a Mandatory
over the phone…”
20.In requesting a mandatory reconsideration of the
decision not to award her UC by telephone, C had a legitimate expectation that
her request would be considered and a decision provided. Failure to provide a
decision and to later report that ‘there was no record
of her request’ breaches the rules of natural justice and frustrates her appeal
details of the action the defendant is expected to take
Secretary of State should revise and award X UC from her original claim date (DATE),
the Secretary of State is unable to do so, she should provide a Mandatory
Reconsideration decision immediately.
that decision makers are adequately trained to ensure that requests made by
telephone to change a decision are treated as mandatory reconsideration
requests and written decisions are provided within a reasonable time.
details of documents that are considered relevant and necessary
Please find enclosed copies of
the following documents:
form of authority.
documents available via X’s UC online journal
confirm in your reply whether the Defendant is willing to consider alternative
The address for reply and
service of court documents
Proposed reply date
We expect a reply promptly and
in any event no later than 5pm on . Should we not have received a
reply by this time we will issue proceedings for judicial review without
further notice to you.
R(C and W) v
Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
 EWHC 1607 (Admin)
It’s a well-known fact that individuals who suffer from a hampered mental capacity - be it mental health or learning difficulties - are most likely to be vulnerable in our communities. They are also more likely to be victims of miss-sold products and services by companies, even though organisations that are providing financial products and services have a duty under the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to take extra care towards these individuals. This is what the FCA has to say about vulnerable customers: ‘ The vulnerability of the customer, in particular where the firm understands the customer has some form of mental capacity limitation or reasonably suspects this to be so because the customer displays indications of some form of mental capacity limitation (see ■ CONC 2.10) But due to a culture of intensive selling to consumers, generated by employers placing and enforcing - often difficult and unrealistic - performance goals which are attached to tempting
‘I have not been able to pay my council tax for last four years. Bailiffs have lied to me to get money from me. I still can’t afford it!’ says Joanna Robinson on Money Matters show on East London Radio in March 2018. During the period 2016-17, bailiffs were used by councils on nearly 1.5 million occasions in order to attempt recovery of council tax arrears. As in Joanna's case, residents were summoned to court for being too poor to pay - accruing court costs, subjected to the ignominy and anxiety having to face enforcement agents, and already too poor to pay, further indebtedness. As I hear the horror stories of bailiff’s knocking on debtors’ doors under the new Council Tax Reduction Scheme (CTRS), I am beginning to worry that the Scheme is really just a Poll Tax rehash. I was too young to remember what the Poll Tax was when it was first introduced in the late 1980s. My parents never spoke about it. In my work I started to notice from 2013 onwards that mo