Well, language is quite complicated. Benefits claims in general are pretty complicated and intimidating and scary for people, we often find. The kind of language that the benefits authorities and tax authorities are using are phrases like ‘habitually resident’, ‘right to reside’ and those things don’t mean anything in themselves so often a client has to go and take advice, speak to somebody to find out what these mean. Something that compounds the difficulties for clients too is the lack of being able to read English. So if a client’s coming over to work and is confronted with lots of different legal terminologies and definitions, they will need to take advice and often will need an advisor to help them write letters to request information they need to prove they come within these criterias. The fact that it’s complicated I think is borne out by the fact it takes so long for the benefits applications to be processed too, so I think there can be a misunderstanding, not only with clients but with people, say, in the job centre, and the tax office. We know that all tax credits claims go to a complex cases unit which is based in Wick so that tells it’s own story, that the test is so complicated that the tax office don’t allow just the general run of the mill offices to deal with the claims, they all go to a specialist office. And, as I’ve talked about before, they can ask for twenty or thirty pieces of proof to help them ascertain whether you do have the right to reside.

  • Lorraine Barrie
Friday 11th June 2010