22 Jun 2009

Good On Mrs. Laybourn (?)


Benefit bosses have launched an investigation into one of the most bizarre cases I (Mr. Justice) have ever passed on to them.

Reader Dorothy Laybourn said she was furious because ... She was paid the wrong amount? She had her benefit cut? She was given poor advice?

No, none of the above. She was angry because they addressed a letter in bad hand writing.

Dorothy, of Jarrow, South Tyneside, told me " The letter was sent by the Department of Works and Pensions in Belfast. I would like you to see what kind of people the Government have employed. It looks like the writing of a child, not a grown-up person. If possible, can you please send the envelope back."

Dorothy is not a woman to be messed with, so back it went. It was obviously written at speed in a mix of capitals and lower-case letters. Some letters were not formed - one of the 'r's in Jarrow looked like an 'n' and the 'k's looked like 'i' and 'c'.

I asked the DWP why the envelope - I can't copy it here because it would mean revealing Dorothy's address - was sent in that form in the first place.

They said " If you have the opportunity I would be grateful if you would pass on my apology to Mrs. Laybourn on behalf of DWP.
This department sends out thousands of letters to customers every week and many, like Mrs. Laybourn's are addressed by hand, usually in order to save time. Sometimes perhaps neatness is sacrificed for speed.
However, we do pride ourselves on our customer service and we take complaints like Mrs. Laybourn's very seriously.
I have passed this query to my colleague on the operational side of the department in the hope that the office which issued the letter, and possibly the individual who addressed it, can be identified and Mrs. Laybourn's comments brought to their attention."

Taken from the pages of 'Mr Justice', The Sunday Sun, Sunday 21st of June.

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