Sunday, 14 December 2008

House calls

Yesterday I made house calls to people who have been in touch regarding problems that they need help with. This is by far one of the most rewarding parts of the job and was reiterated to me by one long serving MP recently who said in 21 years he still enjoys doing casework and the minute that stops then he'll call it a day. But as rewarding as it might be it is also still quite upsetting and one visit I made yesterday highlighted how desperate people are by the time they get to ask for help.

A problem I dealt with yesterday regarded disability living allowance which essentially involves a gentleman losing his allowance despite having never received written communication that this was going to happen - the first he knew about it was when the charity which provides him with a car called to tell him they were coming to collect it. Ironically his claim was originally reviewed because he started doing some light part time work - something the Government actively encourages. It is quite clear from the fact that he can barely walk that he has a case but all he wanted from me was to help him write a letter because he was worried he wouldn't do it properly. It took me no time at all to help him but if his appeal is successful then it will bring him a huge amount of mobility support that will enable him to continue to work and play an active role in his family. Fingers crossed.


Anonymous said...

Isn’t a disgrace that the gentleman had to contact you in the first place?

In a world where everyone is (allegedly) either a "customer" or a "client" you cannot help but think these terms are just invited poppycock to hide the appalling way that people are now treated by the bureaucrats who draw their salaries from the public purse.

Several years ago I owned a business that was VAT registered. Each quarter I received a VAT bill and had 4 weeks to pay. If I was one day late an automatic penalty was added along with interest. Further (and ever increasing) penalties were added for every additional day. No appeal, no discussion and no excuse.

However, when I was owed a £1800 income tax refund for a previous over-payment I had to wait 12 weeks with no chance of interest.

If the next Conservative government could achieve just one thing with public services, my priority would be a root and branch reform of the way "they" deal with "us".

If any private company treated its customers with the blatant and arrogant disrespect that we receive from many in "the public sector" they would be bankrupt and rightfully so.

Let's work towards an end to the final salary pensions, job for life mentality and the vulgar arrogance that leads to the Sharon Shoesmiths and the Cressida Dicks of this world never feeling they have a duty of responsibility for their incompetence.

John M Ward said...

That is indeed the greatest joy of being an elected representative at whatever level, as I found during my eight years on the Council.

Bearing in mind that by the time people come to you their situation is often quite severe and on the surface seems beyond hope, one of the most useful attributes I found was to be able to think creatively and to innovate.

I often found that I could devise a method of getting folk out of an apparent "Catch 22" situation by coming up with something that hadn't occurred to any of the players in that scenario.

For example, earlier this year I had the problem of someone who had moved here to avoid a gangland threat and someone else who had moved elsewhere, but needed to show proof of that address to council officers.

That second person was terrified of their current address going on file, so I came up with a solution that satisfied both parties — but you'll have to wait for my memoirs to be published to find out how I did it!