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Consumer Complaint

Carol - UK - complaint about a council

Companies Involved: 
Wiltshire County Council Benefits department
Issue Area: 

Hi As this is a complaint an about Wiltshie County Councils benefits department, I don't think you will be interested in trying to help me. I worked for a private hospital where I was constantly bullied. I lodged a complaint with the hospital manager who decided to keep the two people that bullied me and terminated my contract. Due to this I was evicted from the house I rented and I moved in to the Wiltshire area with one of my daughters. I put my name down on the housing list with Wiltshire Council. On the 5th October 2012, I was told I could have a new two bedroomed flat by an Housing Association. I was told I could move in on the 8th October 2012. As it was a brand new flat I had to get carpets fitted. I took some of my smaller belongings in on this date and arranged to have measurements done for the carpets and I also arranged to have the bulk of my furniture delivered. I immediately sent of a form for housing benefit. A few weeks later I had a letter saying from Wiltshire Council stating they needed more information, which I sent in. The information they required was about a house that I let in Cornwall. As I am on pension I could not afford to pay the mortgage on the house so I let it. The rent money pays the mortgage, house insurance and any repairs. I do not have any money out of it. I sent a valuation of the house, if it was to be sold. The estate agents report said I would have to market the property for £150,000 to £155,000 to get a sale. If I sold the house for this it would not cover the mortgage, solicitors fees and agents fees. All information the Council required I sent off. While I was waiting and it was getting to the end of October, I decided to put having the carpets laid and moving my furniture in on hold because if I laid carpets and paid to have my furniture moved in and then didn't get any help with housing I would not have been able to pay rent out of my pension or had the money to move my furniture out again. I borrowed an army camp bed from my daughter as I had to say I was sleeping there, Very uncomfortable for a 64 year old. At the end of November, Wiltshire Council replied, only to tell me I did not qualify for housing benefit because I had too much equity as they valued the property I have in Cornwall as £170,000 and this meant I was over the government guideline for help. I immediately appealed against their decision and I sent in the identical paperwork that I sent in with the first application. I received a letter stating they would be in touch but it would take a few weeks, The rent on the property was continuing to mount up as there was no way I could pay the amount of rent required from my pension, I also now had to pay to keep my furniture in storage. I was so depressed over the way I was being treated that my daughter in Yorkshire asked me to go up with her for Christmas. On the second of January 2013 and enquired as to how my appeal was going. The person I spoke to said they had had a lot of appeals and no decision had been made. I left it until the following week and then I rang again. This time the person I spoke to ask me if I had seen the letter that was sent to me on the 18th December 2012 stating Wiltshire Councils decision. I said I had been away for Christmas. She said I had been granted a % of housing benefit. I asked why I had been turned down the first time and she said they had a new person and she put the wrong figures in. The housing Association then sent me a letter saying they were going to apply to the court for repossession of the flat. I was mortified, to say the least. I now had to attend court and another £100 to find. I have tried to get the Council to see that the mistake was theirs and would they compensate in some way. They sent me a form to sign when I said I had moved in. When I was refused any help with the rent and it now had to go to court, which was on the 7th March 2013, I had no idea if I would be allowed to keep the flat so I moved back with my daughter. The Housing Association said if I was able to pay off some of the arrears each week, they were quite happy for me to carry on renting the flat. The decision Wiltshire Council has made is I do not have any of the arrears or storage costs reimbursed as I was not living there. How could I carry on sleeping on a camp bed. At this stage I cannot afford any carpets and I am paying off my storage fees each month until they are cleared. The Council do not seem to realise that they made the mistake. I am now left with three months storage rent at £184.44 per month, £1888.18 in arrears on the rent for the flat and also plus £100. This is all because a new person started to work for Wiltshire Council and put the incorrect figures in to the system. I expect this person has still kept her job but has ruined mine I cannot tell you how I am feeling at this moment but all I know is I have many years of paying back these arrears. I just hope you will consider looking at my case as I am totally devastated Kind regards Carol