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Useful Information For Constituents

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  • Benefits, Pensions and National Insurance
  • benefits, pensions and national insurance The following contacts may be useful for benefits, pensions, national insurance and other matters dealt with by the Department for Work and Pensions.

    Department for Work and Pensions, Caxton House, Tothill Street, London, SW1H 9DA. Website: www.dwp.gov.uk.

    Jobcentre Plus. Telephone: 0800 055 6688. Website: www.jobcentreplus.gov.uk.

    The Pension Service, The Pension Service, PO Box 7, Preston, PR11 2BW. Telephone: 0800 731 7898. Website: www.thepensionservice.gov.uk.

    Service Personnel and Veterans Agency, Norcross, Thornton Cleveleys, Lancashire, FY5 3WP. Telephone: 0800 169 22 77. Website: www.veterans-uk.info.

    Disability and Carers Service, Benefit Enquiry Line, 201 Red Rose House, Lancaster Road, Preston, Lancashire, PR1 1HB. Telephone: 0800 882200. Website: www.dwp.gov.uk

  • Child Support Agency
  • The Child Support Agency(CSA) deals with child maintenance payments from non resident parents (NRPs).You can find out more about the Child Support Agency from their website www.csa.gov.uk and in particular you can find out about their complaints procedure in the section 'Your Case' by clicking on 'Complaints'. You can also call the Child Support Agency National Enquiry Line on 0845 7 133 133.

    independent case examiner

    If you have had a final response from the CSA's Complaints Review Team and are still not happy, then the next stage is to take it to the Independent Case Examiner (ICE). This must be done within six months of receiving the final response from the CSA. The website is at www.ind-case-exam.org.uk and they prefer to receive complaints via their online complaint form. However, you can telephone the Independent Case Examiner's office on 0845 606 0777 for advice. In exceptional cases, where the ICE believes that the rules have been adhered to, but they see the situation is unfair, then they may refer the matter to the Government.

    what Daniel can do

    Daniel and his staff can ask the CSA to investigate possible administrative and clerical errors and to initiate or speed up enforcement where the NRP is not paying. However, MPs can do very little in situations where the CSA is applying its rules correctly, but you believe the rules are unfair.

  • Health
  • If you have a problem with a doctor, dentist, hospital or other part of the National Health Service, it is usually best to start by talking with the doctor, dentist or other healthcare professional you have been dealing with. If you do not wish to do so, or do not get a satisfactory answer, then all medical practices, dental practices, hospitals and other healthcare providers will have an official complaints procedure. Where possible, you should try to follow the official complaints procedure as far as possible, including making the complaint to the Healthcare Trust that runs the practice or hospital in question.

    shrewsbury and telford hospitals

    The Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and the Princess Royal Hospital, Telford are run by the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust. Complaints about either of the hospitals should be made to the Trust. Their website is at www.sath.nhs.uk and you can find out about the complaints procedure under the section 'Information for Patients'. Alternatively you can telephone 01743 261000 for The Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and 01952 641222 for the Princess Royal Hospital.

    the primary care trust

    GP surgeries, district nursing, NHS dentists, community hospitals and other health services in Shropshire are the responsibility of Shropshire Primary Care Trust. More information is available from their website at www.shropshirepct.nhs.uk or by telephoning 01743 261300. You can find out about the complaints procedure under the website's section 'Contact Us'.

    You can also contact the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS), which aims to help resolve informally any concerns you may have about local health services from the Shropshire Primary Care Trust. You can call PALS on 0800 032 1107.

    the mental health trust

    Mental healthcare services are provide by the South Staffordshire and Shropshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust. Their website is at www.southstaffshealthcare.nhs.uk and you can telephone them on 01785 257888. The complaints procedure is on the website under the section 'Our Patient Care' and click on 'Service Relations'. There is also a Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS), which can be contacted by telephoning 01785 221469.

    the orthopaedic hospital

    Although it is outside the Constituency, many Constituents are treated at the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital in Oswestry. You can telephone 01691 404000 or visit their website at www.rjah.nhs.uk. The complaints procedure is on the website under the section 'About Us', which will help you in making any complaints to the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Trust. The hospital in Oswestry also has a Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS), which can be contacted by telephoning 01691 404606.

    the advocacy service

    If you would like support in making a complaint about the NHS, you can go to the Independent Complaints Advocacy Service (ICAS). They provide a free, independent and confidential support service and you can call the Shropshire and Staffordshire branch on 0845 337 3054. More information is available at the website www.pohwer.net.

    the ombudsman

    If you have exhausted the relevant complaints procedure with the health trust, the next step is to go to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman. The website is at www.ombudsman.org.uk or you can telephone 0345 015 4033. You must have followed the complaints procedure from the health organisation you are complaining about and either have received a final response (that you are unhappy with) or no response at all. You can download a copy of the complaint form from the ombudsman's website.

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  • Housing
  • Social Housing (which used to be known as Council Housing) is provided by various independent organisations, of which the largest one in Shrewsbury is Severnside Housing.

    severnside housing

    Homes are allocated by Severnside Housing by giving applicants a banding, which takes into account factors such as medical conditions and family size. The bands are Priority, Band One and Band Two. Houses are allocated strictly by band and then strictly in date order. Demand for housing is such that even applicants in the Priority Band can expect a considerable wait to reach the top of the list.

    You can find out more about Severnside Housing on their website www.severnsidehousing.co.uk, or you can telephone them on 01743 285000 during office hours. Out of hours emergencies for existing tenants should be reported on 01743 360945. You can find out about making a complaint by looking at the 'contact us' section of their website.

    If you are concerned about your application for a house or a transfer, Daniel can highlight your case and ask for it to be investigated. However, he cannot arrange for a Constituent to be moved up the waiting list and he is bound by the Housing Association's procedures.

    other housing associations

    Similar procedures apply to the other housing associations that offer houses in the Shrewsbury & Atcham Constituency and a long list of these associations can be found on the Shropshire Council website www.shropshire.gov.uk under Housing, Housing Associations.

    shropshire rural housing association

    If you live in a rural part of Shropshire, you can also look for help with housing from Shropshire Rural Housing Association, which is a charitable organisation. The website is at www.shropshirerural.co.uk and they can be telephoned on 01743 874848.

     

     

     

    HOMELESSNESS

    If you are, or are about to become, homeless, you should contact Shropshire Council, who are responsible for all those who are genuinely homeless. For help with homelessness you should contact the Options Team at the Council immediately and ask for an interview. The Council allocates up to three quarters of the housing available from Severnside Housing each month, so this is the best way to get a house if you can show you are genuinely homeless. You should note that there are official definitions of 'genuinely homeless' which will be strictly applied by the authorities.

    If you are not genuinely homeless and the Options Team at Shropshire Council are not able to help you, then you can contact one of the following organisations for help.

    If you are 25 years or over you can contact Homes for All at 2/3 Wyle Cop, Shrewsbury or telephone 01743 231415 to arrange an interview. They can help you with finding the deposit to rent a home, which can be paid back over a repayment scheme.

    If you are under 25 years old, you can contact HYPS (Housing Young People in Shrewsbury) at the Roy Fletcher Centre, Shrewsbury or telephone 01743 341900 to arrange an interview.

    The Isaiah58 Project is run jointly by 58 churches in Shropshire and provides support to homeless people and families. This includes advice, information, food, clothing, bedding, furniture and household items. They can be contacted by telephone on 078080 16865 or 01743 271758 or by email to theisaiah58.project@virgin.net.

    Shrewsbury Ark provides a drop-in centre for homeless people at 10 Castle Foregate, Shrewsbury. They can be contacted by telephone on 01743 363305.

    Women's refuges are provided by West Mercia Women's Aid. They can be contacted 24 hours a day on 0800 783 1359.

  • Immigration
  • Immigration is dealt with by the UK Border Agency, which is part of the Home Office and whose website is at www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk. The website gives a complaint procedure under the section called 'contact'.

    If you are unhappy about the outcome of your complaint to the UK Border Agency, you can take the matter to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman. The website is at www.ombudsman.org.uk or you can telephone 0345 015 4033.

    Daniel and his staff can ask the UK Border Agency to investigate possible administrative or clerical errors and provide an update on the status of your case, but we can do very little where the UK Border Agency is applying its rules correctly, but you believe that the rules are unfair. We are also unable to provide advice or guidance on what type of application should be made and Daniel is not able to provide letters of character support, unless he already personally knows the individual concerned.

    The Immigration Advisory Service (IAS) provides free advice and support about immigration and asylum to eligible people. It is an independent charity and its website is at www.iasuk.org. You can telephone the West Midlands office on 0844 974 4000.

  • Tax Credits
  • Tax Credits are the responsibility of HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) and a lot of useful information is available on the Tax Credit part of the HMRC website at www.hmrc.gov.uk/Taxcredits. You can also telephone the Tax Credit Helpline on 0845 300 3900.

    complaints procedure

    If you have a complaint about the way HMRC have dealt with you over your Tax Credits, you should follow the Tax Credits complaints procedure.

    If you disagree with a decision on your Tax Credits, you should appeal to HMRC within 30 days of receiving the decision, by filling in an appeal form. The Tax Credit Office will consider your appeal and will explain why they have made the decision that they have made. If you are still unhappy with the decision, you send the appeal to the Tribunals Service who will consider your appeal at a hearing. Their website is at www.appeals-service.gov.uk or you can telephone the Birmingham Office on 0121 634 7201.

    All the information about appeals and complaints are available on the HMRC Tax Credits website by following the link marked 'complaints, appeals, penalties, enquiries'.

    the adjudicator's office

    If you have exhausted the Tax Credit Office's appeal and complaint procedures and you have a final response from them, then you may take the matter to The Adjudicator's Office, as long as you do so within 6 months of receiving the final response from the Tax Credit Office. Their website is at www.adjudicatorsoffice.gov.uk or you can telephone 0300 057 1111.

    the ombudsman

    The final step you can take is to go to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman. The website is at www.ombudsman.org.uk or you can telephone 0345 015 4033. You must have followed the rest of the complaints procedure given above before you do so. You can download a copy of the complaint form from the website.

    Daniel and his staff are not able to make the complaint or appeal for you, but can supply a covering or supporting letter for you, as appropriate.

  • Utilities
  • As all the utilities - telephone, gas, electricity and water - are these days run by private companies, Daniel cannot compel them to deal with your complaint in a particular way. However, he can contact them on your behalf and is often able to reach someone who is in a good position to try to help you.

    You should always try to resolve a complaint directly with the company in question. If you think you may have to take your complaint to a high level, you need to make sure you have made an official complaint to your supplier. There is a lot of legislation that controls the way that the private utility companies work, but you always need to have made an official complaint to the company, before an independent body can look at your complaint and try to resolve it.

    (a) TELEPHONE, MOBILE AND INTERNET

    the ombudsman

    If you have complained officially to a telephone company and received a response you are unhappy with (a 'deadlock letter'), or if 12 weeks have passed since you complained, then you can take your complaint to the Ombudsman.

    Otelo (Office of the Telecommunications Ombudsman) deals with consumer complaints for public communication providers that are members, including BT. Otelo provides a free and independent service to sort out disagreements between public communication providers and their customers. They investigate complaints fairly by listening to both sides of the story and looking at the facts.

    A complaint can only be raised with the Ombudsman once a deadlock letter has been received from the company and has to be raised within 6 months of the deadlock letter, or 9 months of making a complaint if no response has been received. The Ombudsman can only deal with complaints made about their members, which include almost all landline providers, over half mobile phone providers and about one third of internet service providers.

    You can find out more about the Ombudsman at www.otelo.org.uk or by calling 0330 440 1614.

    the regulator

    Ofcom is the regulator for the telecommunications industry. It does not deal with individual disputes and complaints, but does provide a lot of useful information at its website www.ofcom.org.uk.

    broadband availability

    Unfortunately, BT is not under any legal obligation to provide Broadband, although it must supply landline coverage for the whole country. Daniel is not, therefore, able to insist that BT provides Broadband to a particular building or area, although he can draw the attention of BT to problem areas and find out what they may be doing to remedy the situation.

    mobile coverage

    The telecommunications companies are not under any obligation to provide mobile coverage in any particular area, so Daniel is not able to insist that they do so. Ofcom's website at www.ofcom.org.uk provides a useful guide to the mobile coverage available from the different mobile service providers.