My Big Gob

Those of you that know me will likely be aware that after I recommenced employment, the clever people at Reading Borough Council continued to pay me housing benefit, despite several e-mails including on the day I started work, to advise them of this fact.
Many months later, they requested the sum of approx £1.5k back. Ouch.

So I wrote a letter to complain. I always knew I had no leg to stand on, that they are totally entitled to mess with people’s finances, so I didn’t expect any outcome from my appeal/complaint other than a demand for payment:


Dear Sir

Thank you for your letter dated 27th June 2012 advising that you have overpaid me the amounts of £1,544.49 and £105.85 for housing benefit and council tax, respectively.

I wrote to you on the day that I recommenced employment to advise you of such and to suggest that you review the amount you were paying me in housing benefit, as I was unsure as to whether I was still entitled to receive these amounts, which I thought was quite possible on my significantly lower salary than I was on prior to becoming unemployed.

That you continued to pay them and did not respond to my attempts at communicating, led to me assuming that the monies paid to me was correct and valid, and hence I continued to use the funds to support my rent and bills.

I dispute your suggested entitlement given that it was down to your repeated administrative errors, and was not down to my actions, or lack of them, in any way, and your inability to respond led me to assume that the money being paid was mine.

However, I would like to resolve this amicably, so I am willing to make you the following offer:

If you investigate this case, and provide me with a full explanation as to why my e-mails were ignored, and an explanation as to why it took so long to stop paying the monies into my bank account, and also provide me with a copy of your procedures in relation to this matter, and a full written apology, then I will be willing to pay the sum of £412.59, which is 25% of the values stated in the letters, as a gesture of goodwill, in full and final settlement.

I repeat, my offer is only valid upon receipt of explanations of why the errors occurred following a full investigation into the case, a copy of the procedures that should have been followed and a written apology.

Also, my offer will expire after 10 working days. I expect this to be sufficient time to investigate.

Please can you also urgently confirm in writing that you have received my e-mail.

Kind regards
James Winfield


Surprise, surprise, they advised that I still owe the sum of money from the overpaid housing benefit.

However, thanks to my complaint, they now realised that they have overpaid council tax to me too so I owe them an extra £250 on top of what I thought.


On the bright side though they are going to, erm, write a full letter of explanation and apology for their repeated fuck-ups.

It’s a good job I have a sense of humour.
The question is now – do I write back and offer one of those £1 Muller vouchers from my previous complaint about those yoghurts, as full and final settlement, or do I just arrange a repayment plan and be done with it?!

Decisions, decisions.

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