Thursday, 24 March 2011


(This was my third attempt at writing this piece – and the first time I managed it without it being mainly profane!)

DWP apparently stands for the Department of Works and Pensions. I think it stands for something completely different and far less polite.

When I was a teenager I was in a few bands. None worth remembering to be honest, but in addition to that I used to write lyrics for quite a few local bands of the time as I found it extremely easy to write the story people wanted to put to their tunes. One song I wrote was called 'The Quisling Clinic' and was about someone visiting the (then) DHSS and there was a part in it where the person asked 'What truth' and the interviewer answered 'Our truth'. Dealing with the DWP made me think of those lyrics for the first time in 20-odd years.

Now if you've been following you know the hellish time we're having getting my son his rightful DLA but I want to talk about two specific attempts to get information from them which (I think) show what a heartless and absolutely useless service they offer.

As nothing was happening I phoned up for an update. Now legally I'm allowed to handle all my son's affairs and the DWP have all the paperwork they need to prove this. So I phoned up and was asked various security questions. One of those questions was how much DLA does my son receive and as I couldn't remember the exact amount to the penny I told them it was minimum rate on both components. As this is a set rate the person I spoke to was fine with that and after only half an hour I was finally put through to a supervisor who was willing to actually explain what was happening – being told initially that the appeal would take up to three months wasn't an answer as far as I was concerned. Now to be fair to the supervisor I spoke to he was actually being quite helpful...until the line went dead. So I phoned up again. I got asked the same questions and gave the same answers. Not good enough I was told – they wanted not only the exact amount but the last time it was paid into my son's account. Now as my son had had a rough night and was asleep I didn't want to wake him to get the paperwork and I explained that. I was told they wouldn't proceed until I gave the exact amount – minimum rate (a set amount as I've said) wasn't good enough and again I was asked exactly how much and in frustration said 'As little as you can get away with'. Now I should stress I was polite the whole time, I did not even come close to being abusive or rude and the most I could be accused of was sarcasm. 'If you are not going to help I'm going to stop this call' I was told. If I'm not going to be helpful!!! I then demanded to talk to someone else (I'd already explained how I'd been cut off) and was told that my attitude was wrong and they hung up on me. Absolutely disgraceful but by no means uncommon attitude from a department that is obviously not fit for purpose. By now I was extremely angry and not in the mood to go through there rubbish again so I left it.

A couple of days later I got a couple of forms from them. Rather confusingly one asked for specific permission to contact someone regarding the claim and the second a rather airy-fairy permission to contact anyone form. These two forms together made absolutely no sense, and also the letter was very unclear about whether I or my son should sign them. Back on the phone to the DWP and, with barely any security questions being asked, I had the forms explained to me. When I say explained I mean I was told I just had to sign them and send them back. I asked again for an explanation as to the contradictory nature of the two forms and was told that's how it's done. Well I'm sorry but I would have to explain to my son what was going on and you can't tell someone who suffers from paranoia 'that's how it's done'. Finally I was put through to a supervisor who asked me to hold on while he looked through the file, and after having me on hold for a couple of minutes he came back on and asked to call me back. To be frank I wasn't hopeful but he did indeed phone back around 10 minutes later and I was told that the forms had been sent in error and that there was no need to return them, despite what I'd been previously told. I managed to find out that the appeal was on hold already the previous time I'd called (for these not needed forms) but even worse than that was the fact that the claim was on hold for nearly two weeks before they sent the forms to me! Has to go through the process I was told. What utter...well I'm trying to do this without swearing so add your own favourite swear word there. So the claim was restarted and they wrote to my son's psychiatrist to verify my reasons for the appeal. This letter has just been received (10 days after that conversation) and, thanks to me tipping the psychiatrist off that the form was urgent I know it's gone straight back to them backing absolutely everything I said and basically ridiculing their reasons for only paying minimum rate to my son.

We're nearly at the one year stage from the first application for DLA being sent and it's still not been sorted. DWP? As I said to me it stands for something very different.