I mentioned some time back I’d had cataract surgery. They did one eye and about ten weeks later they did the other.
Because after the operation I couldn’t drive, get dirty or lift, I got signed off on the sick for two weeks.
First time this happened I filled in the form over the phone for the contributory element of ‘Employment and Support Allowance.’ I’ve paid my stamp since 1975 so I’m entitled to something. But there’s a non-contributory element. Because the minute I go sick and stop trading my working capital becomes savings, I know I’m not going to get that.
I told them this, but hey, what do I know. About ten days after I filled the form in on line, along came the B16 form. I took one look at it, realised it was for the non-contributory element and phoned up.
“Do I have to fill it in?”
“Yes or you won’t get the non-contributory element of the ESA.”
“I won’t anyway, and anyway I cannot fill the form in yet because some information isn’t available till our year end and if I ask the accountant to do it he’ll charge more than you’ll pay.”
“And in three days I’ll be back at work.”
“No problem, ignore it.”
So I did. My B16 remained stoutly not filled in but more importantly, the money was paid.
Anyway after the second operation I went through the same procedure. When the B16 arrived I phoned the appropriate number. The lady on the phone was helpful.
“Well if you’re not claiming, you don’t have to fill it in. Why did you ask for it?”
“I didn’t, Bathgate just sent it.”
“They did? Why?”
“A good question, so I don’t have to fill it in.”
And on Friday, through the post came a letter saying I wasn’t going to get my money because the law says they cannot pay it.
So I phoned, got a call centre who told me someone would phone, and today they did.
“We cannot pay because you’ve not filled in your B16.”
“I was told not to, twice, by your people.”
“But until you fill it in, we cannot pay you.”
“Well you managed ten weeks ago with no apparent problem.”
“But we cannot pay until it’s filled in.”
”According to the letter you cannot pay because of the law, will any of your staff be prosecuted because of paying me?”
“I’ll have to check details with my colleagues, can you hold please.”
I held. William came back to the phone. “We’ll send you another B16, we cannot pay until you fill it in.”
So I await my B16, but when I get it I’m going to phone again to see if I need to fill it in, which could be fun.