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.
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.