Below is a letter my mother in law received out of the blue from the Pension Service on Friday. I have reproduced the text of the letter word for word except for the italics which are my own and the X’s which replace personal information.
If you be bothered to read this post in full, you deserve a medal. It is incredibly boring but does illustrate something important.
Dull but essential background knowledge
My mother in law lives on a very low-income and suffers from anxiety and depression. Her monthly income (including a small amount of rent from a tenant) is just enough to cover her bills and pay for Christmas. She is a very honest, diligent, fearful and law-abiding person. She has low self-esteem and isn’t very good with bills or letters but is always very keen to do the right thing and declare everything. It is very important to her that she knows how much money she is getting every month. Her worse fear is owing others money. She doesn’t have any savings in the bank.
What score out of 10 would you give the Pension Service for this effort and why? Can you see any errors? What do you think of the language?
Ref: XXXX XXXXX
Section: Decision Making
Dear Mrs X
Thank you providing information about your property at XX XXXXXX XXXX. I have considered the fact that this property has tenant and that you are receiving rent from this property. However the law states that the Department can only disregard one property and that property is the property occupied by you as your home.
I have noted that you have with held permission to have XX XXXXXX XXXX valued and in order to estimate a value for the property I have consulted a website Zoopla which gives estimated values for properties and I have averaged the estimated values of other properties in XXXXXX XXXX.
The average price for your property is £XX, XXX less 10% for expenses of sale gives a value for State Pension Credit purposed of £XX,XXX to be taken account as capital when assessing your claim.
This means that for the purposes of your Pension Credit, you will be treated as having additional capital of £XX, XXX from 13 October 2010 that being the date when you informed the Department you had changed address.
If you think our decision is wrong, you also have the right of appeal. You can get a copy of form XXXX from your local Social Security Office, your local Job Centre or the Citizens Advice Bureau. You should fill in the form XXXX and send it to the Appeals Officer at the above address, within one month of the date of this letter. Your appeal will be heard by an independent appeals Tribunal. If you would like to know more about this decision, please get in touch with us.
Marks out of 10?
My next blog post will be the same letter, annotated with some possible areas for improvement.