Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Don't bother...

I'm not sure why, but regardless I'm doing a pretty good impression of a sulky, petulant child today. Perhaps it's because I'm so tired, perhaps because my hip is doing a better job of hurting me than any paratrooper PT instructor could do, or just because because.

Being turned down for the Community Care Grant I applied for back at the start of February has absolutely definitely got something to do with it though.

I phoned yesterday to try and chase up what had become of the form neighbour and I spent hours filling out. After the obligatory time on hold I got through to an unusually honest lady who told me that I could try phoning back but not to bother because I wouldn't get through. The telephone software used by Jobcentre plus* is set up to allow 70 people waiting on hold to ask for application forms but only 20 for enquiries about existing applications. If you're unlucky enough to be no's 21 or 71 in the queue the system cuts you off. Politely mind, there's no swearing or anything, just a dead phone line. Which is not good for the blood pressure after endless time spent trying to press button 1 to speak to operator 2 about issue 3 dealt with in department 5 living in corridor 6 all whilst desperately trying to stop the grinding of teeth in time to tinny classical muzak. I needn't have bothered, just holding the phone to my ear is enough to make my shoulder dislocate.

The Community Care Grant was for all the specialist bits and pieces I need to take life that bit closer to living and away from existing. A proper Tempur branded memory foam mattress, a mobility scooter, ramps and a storage shed. Oh and I think we put down a specialist shower seat too. Call it a crippled wish list if you like. I certainly wasn't expecting to get funding for all those things but was hoping if I put them all down and explained why I needed them then at least part of the grant money would be awarded.

I should know better by now than to hope for anything approaching a sensible decision from the insanely bureaucratic system we currently have in the UK. If I was naive enough to believe a change in government would make any difference then I'd wait and reapply in a few months time but that would be stupid. And stupid I am not.

It seems that my grant application was turned down in February, within a few days of the social fund receiving my application. Except no-one bothered to enter the details of that application on the system. So there it sat until I managed to get through to someone this morning by employing the cunning tactic of phoning whilst Jeremy Kyle was still on TV. The very nice and also honest lady who was trying to help me explained that I would need to appeal against the decision.

The details are a little fuzzy as I was tired after a night spent dislocating on an unsuitable mattress but let's gloss over that part. It was something along the lines of the nice lady entering a special note on the system to allow me to appeal a decision that wasn't entered on the system 2 months ago. The special note was needed because to send a decision for review or appeal it has to be within 7 days of that decision being made and I'm some 2 months late.

Yes, you did read that correctly. The system is so gagged by bureaucratic nonsense that permission has to be given to appeal a decision no-one notified me or their own system of.

Of course, designing a system so hideously complicated no-one understands it, then automatically rejecting applications anyway couldn't have been the original purpose. Could it?

*who, as part of the department of work and pensions oversee all social fund applications. Confused yet?


allnottinghambasearebelongtous said...

Your time limit for a review of the decision is actually 28 days from the issuing of the decision, not the date of making the decision.

It sounds to me that they are telling you that they never sent a decision out to you. Would be worth trying to confirm this (if you think you can face calling them back without resorting to gnawing one or more of your own limbs off).

If that is the case then the time limits for a review haven't started. The decision on your app must be in writing. I'd suggest getting them to tell you the date of the decision letter they sent you, if it turns out they haven't sent it then tell them to send you one now.

If they claim that they did send a decision letter and you didn't receive it they can still do a review as there are special reasons.

Worth mentioning that CCGs have a very low success rate on first application, a not much better success rate on first review but a much better success rate if you go for a further review by the social fund inspectors. In other words it's well worth pushing it all the way.

It's also well worth getting help from a welfare rights agency or law centre so they can do the work for you.

Good luck!

madsadgirl said...

That really is appalling, but not altogether surprising when we have organisations such as DWP who have no idea how difficult it is for someone to live with crippling disabilities. I hope that you have success with your appeal and you should point out to them in no uncertain terms that they need to get their house in order with regards to dealing with the mountains of paperwork they feel it necessary to create thereby ensuring that much of it will get lost and any but the most persistent will give up trying for grants that could make their life halfway acceptable.

LceeL said...

They do that to discourage the benefit scroungers. Love you.

Rach said...

I agree with other posters, please keep pursuing this Bendy they will give in the end.

Good luck hun..xx

Lankylonglegs said...

My grant application was refused too, seems to be able to buy a wheelchair so that I can go outside is "insufficient needs"
So what they are saying is it doesn't matter if I can't get out to do my shopping, or visit the doctors or hospital.

I am now following a different avenue, having been in touch with various charities that cover the area I live in I've been met with positive results.

Appeal this, and keep ON appealing! Don't let the b*****ds grind you down! If single parents with a string of kids with different dads can get money from the system to fund their drug habits...then YOU deserve some too!
Keep on bugging them, as Rach said, they will give in the end.