Well, having taken advice when Stewart was poorly, we applied for tax credits and it went without a hitch. However, when I rang them the week after he died to tell them, they must have decided that I hadn't suffered enough. First they promised they would do the alteration over the phone, then they decided that they would cancel the existing claim and send out a new claim form which didn't arrive for 10 days.
Ok, I coped with that but what happened next - well being a little on the upset side, i put a wrong digit in my national insurance number and hey presto, the world stops. When I rang chasing the claim after 4 weeks I was told they didn't have it, then they found it, found the mistake said they would rectify it and said ring in a week. That has been the story ever since. Last week I demanded to speak to a team leader who having got me hysterically crying by this time, agreed to have the claim processed asap. Being me, I trusted them and today decided that having given them another 5 days to process the paperwork which they had had for 7 weeks, I would ring. BIG MISTAKE. "we haven't got a claim for you" and it started all over again. After much shouting on my side with the threat that this was about to push me over the edge and that did they have a bed in their office cos without my money I would be homeless or alternatively could pay the mortgage but then my kids wouldn't eat and we would have no gas or electricity???? I was told that I would need to write in and complain. WRITE IN AND COMPLAIN - I have found the second place in the world that has no emails or telephones, the tax credit benefit agency - cos according to the helpline they cannot contact them by phone or email. Maybe our prime minister would like to help them out and install modern technology so that they can be contacted.
Having hung up on them in floods of tears I left work and came home and rang again to be told "you've rung already twice today". Actually, I said, I have rung only once but I want to know if you will be processing my claim before I contact the BBC and ITV - he informed me they wouldn't be processing the claim but if I rang the Inland Revenue in Leeds they would help me with an emergency loan......................... possibly!!!!!! So I did that to find that the number in the telephone directory is for Income Tax!!!! That was it, having told the lovely lady in income tax my problems and being told she couldn't help me I said never mind, I won't need the bloody benefit and put the phone down. Within 5 minutes another lovely lady from income tax rang me to give me the information of where I go in Leeds to get face to face help. I have to say I think this lady saved my sanity - so whoever you are, thank you so much for being a normal human being and caring.
I went down to the benefits help section at the local inland revenue offices and WOW another nice, caring normal lady called Ayasha (I think that's how you spell her name) helped me out and after listening to my story went to speak to her supervisor. She came back having got all the advice she needed and helped me fill in a new form which she personally will process tonight and call me tomorrow to let me know when I will get some money (hopefully next week) which will be back dated too!!!
So, ok, that's one government department that was totally and utterly crap and uncaring, can you believe I have found someone else equally as unhelpful. EMA. That is the payments that Jamie gets for staying on at school, you know the ones that had silly adverts with talking heads in the classroom telling the kids they can get paid to stay in school. Well, they are wrong, cos the people who process the claims are useless, the people who deal with your queries are blatently stupid and the only way for them to correct an error they have caused is to go to appeal!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
What did they do - well you fill the form in and send in your P60 showing your income. That's easy, honestly. There is only one of me so all i had to do is send in my P60 which I did. What do they do, they double the pay on it!!! What the F**K is that about - I mean it was so obvious that they had put in the figure twice which meant Jamie doesn't get what he's entitled to. So very calmly I ring and explain that they have made this error to be told all I can do is appeal even though if someone got out the form and P60 it would be obviously their mistake. Nope, they won't check in you have to write in and it takes up to 6 months for the appeal.
My blood pressure must be up near Mars by now with all of this, not what I really need at the moment. You'd think that between all the forms you have to fill in for widows pensions, bereaved parent benefit, bereavement benefit, any benefits additionally you may want to claim, that they wish that they could kill the partners too. All I can say is I hadn't realised how distressing this would be on top of the grief which is really beginning to hit home.
So all i can say is AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!