NED News Adviceline: Summer 2018

I have a long-term health condition but I recently had my Personal Independence Payment (PIP) reduced after a re-assessment. I want to challenge the decision – where do I start?

There are two stages to challenging your PIP assessment decision. The first stage is known as mandatory reconsideration and involves asking the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to take a second look at your assessment decision.

Normally, you’ll need to contact the DWP within a month of your assessment decision being made, and it’s best to do so in writing. Under some circumstances, you can ask for mandatory reconsideration up to 13 months from your assessment decision date.

Your letter should list all the reasons why you don’t think your PIP award should be reduced. Make sure you provide evidence to back up each point you make, such as practical examples, medical records and supporting letters from specialists who are treating you. If you don’t have the required evidence available, you can submit it separately at a later date.

Once the DWP has looked again at your assessment decision, you’ll receive a Mandatory Reconsideration Notice which says if your request has been successful or not. If it is, your original award will be reinstated and your payment backdated.

If you’re unsuccessful, you could choose to progress to the second challenge stage. This is where you appeal your assessment decision by taking your case to tribunal. For help filling in the tribunal form and preparing for your hearing, contact your nearest Citizens Advice or visit the website.


 

I am over 25 and entitled to the National Living Wage, but I suspect I am being underpaid. How can I find out if I’m being paid the right amount, and claim what I am owed from my employer?

If you think you’ve been underpaid, you should act quickly, as it’s harder to get your money back three months after the problem arose.

Check your payslip to see if there’s been some mistake. You will be able to see the number of hours you’ve worked, the rate you’ve been paid at and if there have been any deductions.

Ask your employer to explain anything you don’t understand on your payslip, and tell them why you think you have been underpaid. If there was a genuine mistake, ask your employer to pay you straight away. You shouldn’t have to wait until the next payday.

If your employer refuses to pay back your wages you can formally raise a grievance, either by writing a letter to your employer or following your company’s grievance procedure. Explain that you haven’t been paid enough and you want them to pay the difference.

If this still doesn’t work, you can take your employer to a tribunal. Contact the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS), who will see if your employer will agree to a conciliation process, rather than go to court. Otherwise you can take your employer to a tribunal. Think carefully before starting a tribunal claim as it can be expensive and stressful.

If you need any advice or guidance through this process, contact your nearest Citizens Advice.


 

I do not think the company that sold me a doorstep loan carried out proper affordability checks and now I cannot afford to pay it back. Can I get a refund?

The Financial Conduct Authority – which regulates the doorstep loan market – says a loan is unaffordable if you cannot make repayments without borrowing again.

Lenders must check your finances and situation – including future income and spending – to make sure you can pay back the loan.

You might feel your agreement was unaffordable if you were given a loan that was more than you could manage to repay and it caused you problems.

If you think you are owed a refund, first complain to your lender. List the ways you think their affordability checks were not properly done, the problems this has caused, and what you would like to happen.

The lender must acknowledge your complaint promptly and has eight weeks to respond formally or resolve your problem.

If you are not happy with their response, or they don’t respond at all, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service using a form on its website.

Should the lender agree with your complaint, they may agree to write off the balance left on the loan or refund some of the interest you have paid.

If they don’t, and you have to take your complaint further, the Ombudsman can force the lender to write off the interest or even the remainder of the loan, and possibly order them to pay a small amount of compensation for your distress if they uphold the complaint.

The Ombudsman’s decision is binding on your lender.

Published by

North East Derbyshire CAB

Free, impartial, confidential advice across North East Derbyshire and Bolsover Districts.