letter in Hackney Gazette (July 2003)
A few weeks ago you published some letters from Hackney Council apologists for the state of their Housing Benefit “service”. As a benefits advocate for a number of tenants & residents in Shoreditch I have this week had to write – for the third time – to Keltan House demanding very basic information about the progress of claims submitted in 2001. The frustration felt by myself and those who I am trying to assist is obvious.
I was involved with the campaign to rid Hackney of ITNet and I am pleased that they have been given the boot they deserved, but we should not tolerate the self-serving deception being foisted upon Hackney benefit claimants by councillors and senior officers. While they pretend that all is rosy, claimants all over Hackney know the deplorable truth, still being dragged through the courts for rent and Council Tax arrears that they have no control over.
My next port of call will be to the Local Government Ombudsman, where so many have gone before. As a Housing Benefit officer (boo, hiss!) for 15 years – in another London borough I hasten to add – councillors and managers should be ashamed at the hardship their residents are being put through. And to pretend that the service is working to an acceptable standard is just taking the proverbial pee.
Hackney Independent Working Class Association