Posted by Nick Gandon
Methinks that the lunatics have taken over the asylum at the Department for Work and Pensions. Maybe lunatics is an unkind (and no doubt very non-pc) description, which on reflection, I should perhaps replace with the term “jobsworths”.
Long known throughout the undertaking profession for their crazy deliberations over the claims for the Social Fund funeral payments, these nice people, of which there ARE some genuinely helpful souls, have hit an all-time NUL POINTS over the last 7 days.
It would be great to know whether other funeral directors have come across these little gems before…
I found a payment into our bank account from the DWP last week. On the statement, it included a DWP reference number, with the letters “SF” – which I decided must be a payment from the Social Fund. Most payments are preceded by a letter advising payment and client details… but not this one!
“Simples” I thought. I’ll ring them up, quote the reference number, and ask which client the payment concerns.
After searching their website to find the most appropriate contact number, and talking with no less than 6 very nice but totally clueless DWP people, I eventually got the right number – only to talk to the most unhelpful one of the lot.
“I can’t discuss this with you” came back the aggressive Liverpudlian voice from the Belle Vale Benefit Centre. “It’s against the Data Protection Act”. So, I pleaded, with an element of reasonable rationality (or so I thought): “You’ve paid us the money. Can’t you at least tell me the name of the client whose account you’ve (part) paid?”
Forget it! Common sense way out of the window! “I’ll have to contact the client (came the reply) and get their permission to be able to tell you that the payment relates to them. When I’ve got their permission, I’ll call you back and let you know who they are”. Crazy.
Case No 2
I got a call yesterday afternoon from (by coincidence) someone at the DWP office at Belle Vale Benefit Centre requesting information relating to a claim. (No connection with the above). Unfortunately, we got cut off mid-call, and their phone ID does not register for callback.
They didn’t call me back, and I couldn’t call them (no number).
I did my best, and tried a series of numbers and, after over an hour of waiting to be answered, BINGO! I got the right call centre.
Yes, you’ve guessed it – my hopes were short-lived. I explained that I was trying to give them the information they requested from me regarding a Mr X, and could they kindly take the details.
“Even if you give me the name and address of the claimant, I can’t talk to you about them because of the Data Protection Act” came the reply.
“To identify the claimant, I need their national insurance number, but I still can’t talk to you about them, even with that.”
“I only want to give you the information you have called and asked me for,” I protested. “I’m giving you the info – not the other way round. The Data Protection Act was never meant to obstruct simple conversation like this,” I protested.
“Call your client and ask them for their national insurance number” replied the robot woman.
I was struggling for a professional variation of the word “BOLLOCKS” but decided on the more polite “we’re wasting each other’s time, aren’t we? Goodbye”.
Anyone else had such a ridiculous wasted few hours with the DWP social fund representatives?