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Fuck You Personal Budget Experts

May 12, 2016

Regular readers will know that I’m pretty efficient when it comes to all the admin involved in the Personal Budget. I am an extremely reluctant employer and I could whinge for Britain on the subject, but I’m on the ball when it comes to the mountains of paperwork.

I’ve been shaking and sobbing since coming home from work this afternoon. Another two hours of valuable free time completely ruined. Yesterday, my two hours respite was spent in the Nationwide setting up new accounts to comply with demands of the OPG. Today’s two hours was spent on the phone to HMRC and being passed between five different people. It got me absolutely nowhere. I’ve now had to cancel what Steven and I had planned for this evening and pay the support worker out of my own pocket to stay on, whilst I crack on and sort out this latest HMRC created mess.

Here’s a quick chronology since January:

5th January: Threatening letter stating I owed £1075.61

7th January: Four hours of phone calls and I reply stating that I don’t owe £1075.61. No response.

26th January: Threatening letter stating that I owed £1188.03

26th January: Three hours of  phone calls and I write stating that I don’t owe £1075.61.

2nd February: Letter from HMRC stating all payments up to date and account is now cleared.

4th February: Threatening letter from HMRC stating I owed £596.28

5th February: Four hours of phone calls and I reply stating I don’t owe £596.28

17th March: Threatening letter from HMRC stating I owed £1739.38

17th March (Yes, the same date): Threatening letter from HMRC stating that I owed £1740.80.

18th March: I write formal complaint.

19th April: Reply from Complaints Manager confirming that my account is up to date and enclosing cheque for £25 for the inconvenience.

6th May (received today): Threatening letter from HMRC stating that I owed £6448.14.

12th May: Second complaint letter sent to HMRC with full schedule of payments due vs payments made for 2015/16.

Here is my second complaints letter:

Dear Mrs Walker

I am afraid that I have to write to you again with a further complaint. I submitted my first complaint on 25th March 2016 and you replied on 19th April, even kindly including a cheque for £25 as a goodwill gesture. Unfortunately it does not look like my original problem was resolved and has in fact been made much much worse.

Today, I received a letter from DMB Campaign informing me that I now have a statement of liabilities amounting to £6448.14! In the space of six weeks since my first complaint about a (mistaken) liability of £1740.80, that figure has now almost trebled. This is ludicrous.

Today, I have spoken to five different people on the phone. In order: an official from the debt management team, two people from the employers help line, one from the “paper filing” team and one from the complaints team. Not one of those five people was able to tell me where that figure of £6448.14 comes from. One of them said, “All is not lost Mr Neary. You can submit all of the returns again”.

One of the big problems I keep encountering is the use of jargon that I don’t understand. Or the staff talk in acronyms that are unfathomable to anyone outside of HMRC. However, I have a suspicion that I know how the error (yours) occurred. Every person I speak to mentions that I should be submitting a return monthly. I submit the returns quarterly. That is because the RT2s that you send me to complete are quarterly forms. I have just received the ones you have sent me for the first quarter of this financial year. I gather from your staff that if a monthly submission isn’t received then you raise an estimated figure and that seems to have caused the huge discrepancy. But I want to reiterate again, that I take my lead from you on this matter – you send me the returns quarterly. I have never received monthly returns from you to complete. The same thing applies with the actual payments I make. Not for the first time, I was told this afternoon that I should be making payments quarterly. Yet, you issue me with a monthly paying in book. So obviously, I take my lead from you and pay monthly.

I have no intention of filling out all the RT2S again for the last financial year. I am a carer who has five hours each week when I’m not either caring or working. That is only five hours to try and deal with messes like this. In fact, I have had to pay my son’s support worker out of my own pocket so that he stays on an extra three hours tonight, which enables me to write this letter and put together the payment schedule. If you would like to reimburse me that £30, it would be much appreciated. There are four employees and I do not intend to fill out another 16 RT2s for each of them for each of the last four quarters, when this mistake is clearly yours.

Instead, I have put together the enclosed schedule. This shows the gross pay, tax, employee’s contributions and employer’s contributions for each employee for each quarter of 2015/16, plus the combined totals for each employee for each of those four quarters. These are exactly the same figures that would have been included on each of the original RT2s. The schedule includes a list of all the payments I made to HMRC for the last financial year; a total of 13 payments.

I think the two most important figures to note from my schedule are the total tax and National Insurance due for 2015/16, which was £14,854.43. That can be compared with the total of the 13 payments I made to HMRC over the course of the year. That figure is £14,854.43. As you can see, what is due and what has been paid match to the last penny.

The longer this shambles continues, the more apparent it becomes that HMRC is not geared up to the situation that most carers find themselves in of having to become employers, just in order for their sons or daughters to get support. It is a nonsense idea and your systems are clearly not set up to recognise the daily realities for carers. The man from the employer’s help line might think he is being very helpful in suggesting that he’ll get a manager from the Carers support team (Does that team actually exist? I’ve been promised callbacks from them at least six times now and never spoken to anyone) to call me back within the next seven days, although he regrets he cannot specify a day or time. As I mentioned earlier, I, like most carers, get a few hours a week free and more than likely will be caught up with caring duties and not able to take a random call.

I trust that my schedule of collected tax and NI when compared with paid tax and NI will settle this matter once and for all. I certainly do not expect to get any more threatening letters about a debt that doesn’t exist.

Yours sincerely

Mark Neary

 

This week, I’ve seen several online conversations and arguments between the pro and anti Personal Budget gangs. I hope I don’t offend but by and large, they are experts by non experience.

I am an expert by experience and I’d like to tell then to fuck the right off. Another week of free hours passed and not a sniff of any free time. Just five different HMRC robots asking me, “And what exactly is the nature of your business Mr Neary?” Fuck off.

This is what having a Personal Budget is like. Just so Steven can go swimming.

 

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From → Social Care

16 Comments
  1. janet kelly permalink

    Tax aid are brilliant for tax issues. They don’t charge, and run training too.Appreciate you may not want training. Login your blogs. Janet Kelly ( carer who declined PB) or Social care locally

    Sent from Yahoo Mail on Android

  2. And worse still, through your taxes, you are paying for all this.

    And, you are not being paid for all your time- hours and hours, home office, and expertise, in trying to sort their dysfunctional, not fit for purpose systems out.

    And, if you were to complain,if you had the time, or sanity, where would you get, and, imagine the hurdles and time wasted to get no where.

  3. Cathy Hodge permalink

    Its just ridiculous, that a full time carer, especially one dealung with someone of complex needs, has to endure this bulshit.
    Do they think you can tell Steven to sit tight for an hour, while I catch up on paperwork. Its a sorry state of afairs, and cost saving my ass – it probably costs THEM way more man-time in the end, dealing with letters and phone calls to resolve the errors.
    What gets to me about this, the most, is that your a clever man, and yet you experience a huge loss of time, effort gettting your paperwork done, and endure the hastle of having to deal with their mess.
    What about the parents who are not smart, or have problems with reading, or speak and read in another language. They must be totaly lost.
    The system bites. Lets hope it doesn’t have rabies.

    • And then, they have the nerve to have carers assessments, to supposedly worry about your wellness well being…………….

      No, its just assessments upon assessments, to wear you down, they do nothing, and claim their salaries for this.

      Meanwhile, no one inspects the residential supported care sector, or make them justify the huge sums they are being paid, and many residents are ill and abused, and dying there, unseen.

  4. weary mother permalink

    Personal payments or their refusal, ‘choices ‘(lA’s push direct payments and are slow to explain they are optional) hand over to families long hours of complex work and lives never again free from anxiety.

    If refuse Direct Payments, then duty of care remains with LA. With this ‘choice’ LA ignores their role and responsibilities of Duty of Care; and miraculously ‘reables’ life long disabled person, and food and a roof now becomes the only agreed needs. All monitoring now left to family. All crises; health and all other aspects of safe or happy are now assessed as greedy …..’wants’. And all rest left to family, if such remains.

    Both ‘choices’ and bollocks word ‘personalisation’ are just cruel cost cutting con.

    The proponents of direct payments, have not a clue of the reality.

    LA’s left with statutory duty of care persuade themselves that leaving vulnerable people isolated in the community, abandoned to lives of loneliness and fear and squalor is a personalisation choice, and expediently delude themselves.

    Both ‘choices’ inflict poverty of existence on others that their proponents would not tolerate for themselves or for their own family.

    Litmus test……experts of no experience at all……would you permit or tolerate either choice for your own?

  5. Becky2015 permalink

    Hi
    I find twitter very difficult medium to give a detailed reply.

    Without getting into the debates in detail about PB and DP I would like to try and help and offer some advice?

    My background is that I was a carer for my profoundly disabled daughter who passed away in 2011, she was an ILF and DP user and lived independently in her own flat with 24/7 carers as a young adult. Her case bought about the change in Local Housing Allowance and the sleep in carers.rule being allowed an extra bedroom. It was subsequently joined with the Burnip case.

    From 2003 we became DP users on her behalf at that time she was under 18, we were the first family in our Borough to have DP. It led to me being a DP Support Worker for over two years and I am still in regular contact with families who are DP users.

    What I find confusing about this problem you are having with HMRC is now we have established you have 4 employees, so a large package. How long have you been a DP user on behalf of your son? I ask this because it is highly unusual for a separate bank account not to be set up from the offset, and in the case of very large care packages which clearly your son receives given the amounts involved with HMRC. It is totally in the best interests of the user to have a separate account for transparency and ease of administration. Our LA would not pay into a personal account and I agree with this. The same with the OPG these are not new things.

    A good support service is essential for DP users and sadly many of them are lacking in their overall support and knowledge however most do run a reasonably efficient payroll service. I know only one person a close friend who runs her own payroll (as I did) however online filing has been compulsory pretty much since they started to roll it out in 2007/8. More recently payments changed from quarterly to monthly and have to be filled online. When they first started online filing there were financial incentives to do it and if you did it from the offset it amounted to £800 in personal payments.

    So why if you are a reluctant employer doing your own payroll, when you can use a payroll service? This would eliminate a massive amount of paperwork for you, it would be filed online and all you would need to do is transfer the amount monthly by electronic transfer from the DP account to HMRC. The third party is then responsible for the payroll.

    I would not recommend anyone doing their own payroll without using HMRC’s software and online filing and payments. (Which to be fair is not that difficult to use if you have some knowledge of payroll). The vast majority of users however as stated above do not do their own payroll as they don’t want the hassle.

    I have never come across a problem like this before with HMRC to be honest, 99% of problems of being a DP employer are employee/employer related and that is very much a minefield. Again my advice would be to have the highest policy with FISH, and always consult with their helpline before making any employee decisions, then you are covered for any legal issues that may arise.

    I do appreciate that using an Agency can be a problem because of costs, however the LA are obliged to meet said costs but the reality is they won’t.

    When DP was originally rolled out the idea was the amount you got per hour should give you the option for employing direct or using an agency without having to go back to Social Services for extra funding or ask them, i.e. an employee being off sick. Sadly in this day and age this has fallen somewhat by the wayside with CUTS.

    Personal Budgets can be purely a figure that sits on their file for many, many users who continue to only access services provided directly by the LA. The main problem being with Personal Budgets is the figure arrived at is computer generated and some authorities (unlawfully) cap the top figure. It is all down to the Social Worker in the end, if they are prepared to argue for the case at Panel and how good they are at doing that.

    Managing a large DP package is a very time consuming job however I would say most of that is in managing the employees/issues and the care, (not the payroll or paperwork that was David Cameron’s argument against it on the first debate with Gordon Brown! Only time I’ve ever heard it mentioned on TV and he claimed it needed 5 lever arch files which is rubbish, I managed with two over 8 years! and kept everything and he was disgruntled at having to have a separate bank account!!). Speaks volumes about him really, clearly he had tried to get Direct Payments for his son and I had visions of a hard pressed Social Worker in Islington trying to deal with it! But it was missed by the average person no doubt who had no idea what they were talking about.

    However employing direct is the only way to have total control over your loved ones care or your own care if applicable and for me that is the over powering argument in favour of being a DP user but it isn’t for everyone and no one should be forced to be an employer.

    For me the time I spent on managing the Employees and the care was worth it because their was no other way to get her the quality care she needed without it being overseen by myself and I have no regrets in doing it and would do it all again. She passed away peacefully in her own home with all her carers present and her parents.

    • Thanks for the advice. You’ve made some assumptions though. There are 5 employees, not 1. I do have a designated bank account solely for the Personal Budget. I’m not sure why you assumed I didn’t. The issue with the OPG has got nothing to do with the Personal Budget. The Personal Budget would not cover hiring a payroll company. The two companies locally that the LA recommend charge £5 per head. That would come to £100 per month. The LA only pay £23.75 per month for external payroll. As you can see, I would end up paying £76 per month myself. The other issue for me with using a payroll company is it spreads the payroll over several days each week, whereas I can do it myself in one morning. The payroll company expect weekly time sheets. They then work out the pay and then notify me so I can make the payments. I have 2 friends who use this company and there are frequent delays in getting the figure work back from the company. I don’t want to disrespect the support staff by being late with their wages, which I know won’t happen if I do it myself.

      • beckyt2015 permalink

        Apologies for mis-understanding about the bank account

        I replied to you in detail on twitter as you know. Just read this post. I can fully understand wanting to do your own payroll. However as discussed paying monthly would cover your costs from LA and I reduce admin massively. I respect your personal reasons for wanting to pay weekly but I don’t think it is something the LA should be obliged or expected to fund and this is not a problem that is a a common one becausec DP users don’t normally pay weekly. I really hope you do sort out your hmrc problems and file returns online because otherwise it is likely to be an ongoing additional stress for you with hmrc..

        Incidentally if the organisation your friends use doesn’t offer a very good service you can go elsewhere although costs vary very little service can vary massively…

  6. Becky2015 permalink

    I just wanted to add I know employers of carers can be exempted from filing online, but I cannot see any benefit to do this for the reasons outlined above and clearly your case demonstrates it is more trouble than it is worth because the system is not geared up for it.

    So either use a payroll service who will do it for you or do it online with the software for the payroll which makes doing the payroll much easier anyway.

    Do hope you get it sorted out.

  7. From the Wild Wood permalink

    Hi Mark! Totally sympathise and empathise with your paperwork trials. Here in Dorset Social Services are in crisis and no Direct Payments have been forthcoming for my son for 6 months and counting. I am funding my son’s team of carers from my own pocket, as without them he would never be able to leave the house. His needs are classed as ‘critical’, with complex and challenging behaviour etc etc. Naturally, there are no facilities locally that he can access, so we are completely self-sufficient.

    Like you, I am forever waiting for ‘phone calls that never come, endless paperwork etc. I believe that this Government has abandoned even a pretense of attempting to care for the most vulnerable in our society.

  8. weary mother permalink

    From the wild wood …..you are spot on.
    It is as though some LA’s have walked away from any semblance of giving a damn. The most dogged of us have no choice but keep on doing all the day to day, plus keep sending emails and phone calls begging some one just to answer the blooming things. And then have to find all the paper work to obtain legal aid and find a solicitor ….none of this is easy. LA do same to solicitor, that is blank them as long as they can, so more life is ground out of us to take them (LA) to Judicial Review. For too often nothing shifts till the judge orders it.

    These LA’s are breaking the law as a routine . A cruel ‘let’s see who blinks first ‘ game that we really have no choice but engage in.

    Many of us have been learning and applying learning in how to enable our sons/daughters for a very long time, and one feels weary when it can appear from others that there is a simple or more competent route that we have just been too dim/failed to use. Most of us oldies have been running round the tree for years.

    Also some find winding and hacking through the support jungle easier than others, or their LA may have retained some humanity,

    Many others have little reserve left or cannot challenge the, ‘what makes you think we give a damn culture’ in the nastiest LA’s….for they do not have the means. ….

    We are all struggling in our own patch, and some survive to do it all another day and the next day too……others go under…….not because they have not known what to do…..It probably just went on for too many years and …..one day….. proved too hard .

    • From the Wild Wood permalink

      Hi Weary Mother! I feel very sorry for the social workers on the coalface who are, generally, our first port of call to obtain funding. Their hands are tied by Government policy and, no doubt, instructions to stall and procrastinate over funding applications as long as (in)humanly possible. They, necessarily, take the full barrage of our persistent enquiries after progress, whilst those that initiate the policies sit safely at arms length – no doubt, generously remunerated in comparison to the social workers’ modest income.

      It is, possibly, a somewhat naive and utopian ideal, but would it be beyond the wit of the Powers That Be to acknowledge that our beloved children, with all their myriad complexities, challenges and unique eccentricities, as is the habit of living creatures, grow up into ADULTS – and thus to anticipate their needs and plan/budget accordingly?

      Silly me, what planet am I on?!

  9. simone aspis permalink

    Mark you should demand a payment for payroll management – Mark you are not an unpaid accountant working for the LA. I made this very clear with A2W – Whilst my employer would have given me time to do the paper work to employ a series of freelance support staff – I insisted that I wanted someone else to do it with the expertise of managing my A2W budget – Oh I should say I have full control over who I employ – so the control remains with me there… I love my job as a campaigns and policy coordinator – I want every minute of my paid time to do campaigns work – not to deal with A2W paper work etc. I had a similar situation with Disabled Students Allowance – (that is support for me whilst completing a PHD) – I insisted on an appropriate arrangement between myself, SLC and my support worker – whilst there were hipcups (around they loosing consent forms so that everyone can speak to each other) it has worked out well for me. I insist that I will not be an unpaid accountant – I really do have a life. Mark please please do insist on asking for funding to pay for the payroll management or an accountant – let them take all the strain – its probably very likely that payroll paid staff will know how to get around all the jargon – and bust through the bull-shit in a flash. You may want to try Equal Citizens – Kevin Claufard (can’t spell surname) he is a disabled direct payment user and has lead the campaign against the closure of the Independent Living Fund – smashing guy – you may get an appropriate deal form him. Good luck whatever decision you make Mark…

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