Friday 19 March 2010

Joined up government?

You would think that in this modern computerised world that once one government department clicked the box marked "Income Support" that all the other government departments would automatically update their records? But no that would make life too simple...

HMRC needed 2 telephone calls to change my tax credits. Didn't the first person actually click the right buttons?

To get Free School Meals for my eldest I had to fill out another form and give into the school. This then has to go to county hall and only gets approved a month later when the computerised records do get transferred to their system.

The NHS sent me even more paperwork to fill in to claim Healthy Start Vouchers (£3.20 a week towards fruit, veg & milk for my 3 year old). Then to top that it has to be signed by a health professional i.e. health visitor or GP that has given you advice about your child.I haven't seen any of the current HV's so tried the GP. GP hadn't heard of the scheme so wouldn't sign. Off I go to where I hope I can find an HV.... only 1 in the building and she has never met me so has to give me some advice on potty training just to sign the form!

At least I already had the NHS Exemptions card from getting Tax Credits the first time. This did come through automatically but quite a while after credits approved.

The government wonders why people don't take up all the benefits they are entitled too! I can tell them one thing if it was all done in one place and automatically triggered all the benefits then people will take them.

Rant over now and I guess I am lucky that I get all these benefits from the government but just wish it cost less in time & money to get them!


  1. Good luck with it, I helped a friend last year with it all and boy was it hard work!

  2. I went through all this last year so know exactly what you mean. I guess the arguement is if they made it easier too many people would swing the lead. It is a pain in the neck though. I am returning to work on monday and believe me its just as bad. I have to phone income support, I have to inform the council about free school meals entitlement ending, I have to contact housing benefit, I have to contact Tax credits, I also have to phone my job centre adviser so she can process my claim to the extra bits I am entitled to as have been out of work for 12 months. They dont exactly make it easy to get off benefits. Yet if i forget something, I get done for benefit fraud. Oh and I cant even phone up till i have physically started work so on top of working i have to spend at least 2 hours on the phone on monday! I so hope it's all going to be worth it!

  3. How ridiculous is that, and the money it must cost to get all that co-ordinated when a simple programme could link them all. I think it's to make people give up without pursuing it. Well done for not giving up.

  4. I have been a claimant, and I also support women with their claims as part of my part-time job for Womens Aid. The whole system can be a nightmare.

    At the moment there is a massive drive to reduce the numbers of people on incapacity benefit. Nothing wrong with that you might think, but in fact some people who are perfectly entitled to them are getting their benefits stopped, despite support letters from their G.P's and local hospital saying that they are genuinely unable to work. It's pushing some people with mental health issues over the edge - and all so the government can say their stats have improved.

    Sorry, I'm ranting now....

  5. Visiting from the Lady Blogger Tea Party!

    Don't you just love bureaucratic red tape? I suspect they do this so that people will become easily frustrated with the process and give up.

    (I'm a single mother, too, by the way.)

    Take care!

  6. It's one of the things I like about living in a Big Brother society - it's not always smooth running but it is SO much simpler than the UK... Each person is issued a social security number at birth (or when you are registered as a resident); everything you do is linked to that number and all the different systems are linked together so it is relatively simple to do things like rent a home... or open a bank account or claim a benefit!

    Of course with a total population smaller than London (despite being geographically bigger than UK!) it must be simpler to set up & run, but surely the same idea could be applied... until some idiot shouts civil rights, right to privacy, data protection.... bla bla bla.


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