On Thursday 10th May 2018 I visited a local One Stop Shop to submit an application form sent to me by the Pension Service for a benefit that I am entitled to. The intention was to take it there to confirm if all information was correct against what they already have on record.
The lady at the desk initially did not want to help me and said that I should contact the Pension Service, however she did look into my file on the computer to advise me of specific information that I had been looking for which meant that she actually had my file open on the computer.
When I arrived home I went on Google Earth to locate the Council offices indicated on the return address sheet provided in the envelope by the Pension Service for the delivery by post but I felt that I preferred to deliver it directly by hand. So seeing that it was located in a place that I had visited on other occasions in previous years, I thought that it would be a straightforward drive and that there would be no need to take my Satnav. Big mistake.
To my great surprise the whole site had been turned into a building site for Churchill Retirement Apartments so the next option was to enquire the location of the replacement Offices. The answer came from a passing couple and so made my way to locate it just over 8 miles away. This was a big mistake without the satnav, not so much journeying through the country lanes, but having arrived, because there was no indication of where the offices were and I ventured out and around and returning and having to ask people where the offices were. I must have travelled three times that distance looking. It turned out to be a new £30 million building, I subsequently discovered the following day, on trying to locate correct contact addresses which were all but elusive except for dogged detective work. All contacts by post were to go to a place that has either since been converted to a post office sorting depot as alternative use or it had always been used to receive mail for the Council. Who Knows?, as I discovered from the various post codes given on the web site bare no relationship to the actual new office building..
Several old post code addresses from previous correspondence over the years had been indicated as being deactivated.
So on entering this great slab of a building, one thing that struck me was that it was not designed to cater for the public. Instead there was a reception desk on the right hand side, curved to blend with what looked like a security access system, and sat at the desk were two females who’s main job was most likely security. The reason that I suspect this is that when I handed them the application form, the immediate response was that I should have taken it to a One Stop Shop to which I explained that I already had the previous day and was rejected and that when I took it to the location provided by the Pension Service it no longer exists.
They took the letter anyway and I asked them to write on the envelope what the contents were and who had provided the form to me and also to date stamp it which they did. I also asked for a receipt for myself to take away and put it straight into my bag without checking it. Unfortunately when I finally arrived home I discovered that although there was a description of what the form was for and whom supplied by, as well as the names of the two receptionists, they omitted to both date and stamp it with an official Council stamp, and they should know that a receipt with out this is usually not accepted as proof of submission or delivery. The heading on the paper is for the Department for Chief Executive and Corporate Resources. The indication therefore is that this building is not designed to cater for the general public, and this is most likely what the One Stop Shops are designed to do. Computers assist in keeping them at arms length. This then can also be a problem when the computer says no and the person responsible difficult to trace or get hold of.
This is obviously something that I will have to actively chase up on, and because the whole situation doesn’t sit right, quite naturally I feel concerned and can visualise where things can go amiss. Anyway time will tell and we can do nothing other but to trust them but the preceding events poses an obvious question mark.
Help the aged claim that there are billions of pounds of unclaimed benefits for pensioners, this has been the case for decades, I believe, as far as I can remember. It has also been pointed out that the UK gives the lowest rate of income for its pensioners within the EU but we can seen that there are supplemental benefits which are to make up for it but somehow there is a feeling of catch 22 about how entitlement to payments are calculated.
Old but still relevant:
Monday 14th May.
A phone call was made this afternoon to inquire if the application form had been dropped off at the correct place and after describing events to the person on the other end of the Phone, who was very helpful, it appears that the pension aspect of the claim had created a confusion at the One Stop Shop and that all that was needed was a notification of the change of circumstances.