2 December 2021


The château at Le Grand-Pressigny in winter.

We decide that the time has come to get some help for Dad.  Carers will need to be paid for.

I go online to the Gov.UK website and find the form to claim for Attendance Allowance*.  It has to be filled in accurately, not missing out any detail, so that DWP can see exactly what the situation is.  

The form is a 28 page document, taking a Very Long Time to fill in.  I fill it in using a PDF file, printed it out and take it round to Dad for him to sign it.  "What am I signing for?" he says.  I tell him and he immediately forgets, asking me the same thing twice again.

I return to the Gov.UK website to find out where I should send it.  The wording on the web page is:

"Send the completed form to:
Freepost Attendance Allowance
You do not need a postcode or stamp"

You can see it for yourself here.

A 28 page document doesn't fit into a regular business envelope, or even an A5 envelope, so I use an A4 size envelope.  I carefully address the envelope as per the instructions given and take it to the post box.  It doesn't fit.  The slot in the post box is too small for an A4 envelope.

Nick takes it into the post office to hand it to the post mistress (Nisa shop assistant) who gives him a telling off.  It seems that the Post Office advice is that they should not accept items with a hand written Freepost address on it.  They are only supposed to accept them if in a printed Freepost envelope or with a printed Freepost label.

Nick points out that that is what it says we should do on the Government website and she agrees to take it "at your own risk with no guarantee that it will be delivered".

This means that, having followed the instructions on the DWP website properly, there is a possibility that this document, containing very personal information about my father, including his bank details, might not be delivered and could go astray.

How stupid!

I write a polite but succinct letter to our MP about it.  Meanwhile, instead of thinking "job done" and being able to sit and wait for a decision, I now have to worry about what happens to the blasted form.

Why does EVERYTHING have to be so damn hard?

A reply comes from our MP's office very quickly, after only two days in fact, saying they are writing, in the first instance, to the Post Office, to seek clarification on their policy regarding this matter and will keep me informed. 

I can't help wondering if this incredibly prompt response has anything to do with the beating the government is taking for their appalling record on Social Care.  And that maybe our MP's office staff have their computers set to filter out and prioritise any emails that contain the words "social services" or "care for the elderly".

Not that it will help one bit if my dad's bank details end up somewhere they shouldn't. 

*Attendance allowance is a non-means tested benefit that can be used to pay for help with certain tasks in someone's own home.


  1. Oh Jean, I do feel for you. Helping my late cousin's son navigate the minefield of sorting out his late Mum's stuff is proving a nightmare. She had Power of Attorney for her 93 yr old Mum, and changing that has proved difficult. But I have to say that the lady on the phone was incredibly helpful and recommended TWO people with LAP, so that there is always one available. Fortunately the carer was willing to witness signatures. But it is all a complex minefield , and the Post Office response is not at all helpful. Let us hope your MPs intervention will help many people in your situation. A 28 page document does seem extremely complex

    1. It is possible that we fell foul of a rule imposed just by our local post office. The Post Office in general must surely be handling thousands of these claims every week and I find it hard to believe that even this bunch of incompetents in power could leave in place advice that was so incorrect. You would think the DWP would be inundated with complaints!
      Let's hope we soon find out via our MP - and also hope that the assistant that took the envelope from Nick did actually put it in the sack of post for collection and not in the bin. I shall fret about it until we hear a reply from the DWP!

      So sorry to hear about the difficulties your cousin's son is having, having to tackle it whilst he is grieving for his mum. Life is so cruel at times.

  2. The complexities of life after death.
    When my husband died the HSBC froze the bank accounts, which we expected, so had a joint account to hold the money to pay for the funeral. That was frozen as well. No matter how much I pleaded with them to let me ha e MY money from My account to pay for the funeral, they said no. In the end I had to use a credit card to pay for it and twelve months later, after intervention by the Financial Ombudsman, I have received a statement. I still can't access the account as they issued a card to my husband so they won't give me one. I think that no matter how you prepare for old age, there are unseen forces working against you. lol
    I hope your paperwork arrives safely and is understood and cleared for help.

  3. 28 pages, patience above! How tedious.

    Take comfort (perhaps) there is something to help, despite all the bureaucratic BS. I wish my father had such. He has some sons with money to pay for his care. He's on his own otherwise.

  4. If it's any help, I've submitted these forms at least 5 or 6 times now for different relatives and they've always got there. On a less positive note, make sure you have copies of everything and a recording or detailed, dated notes of all conversations and meetings with any official. When they call you out of the blue years later and demand that you repay large sums of money because of "errors" and lack of evidence supplied on the forms, then it can be a nightmare proving that it's their mistake and not yours. After the most recent dispute, they've promised to phone me back urgently to discuss their final decision in the case. That was in February 2019 and I'm still waiting for the call. I would write to my MP but, in my case, that's a certain Mr Raab (it's a very safe seat, allegedly), so I don't think I need to explain why I haven't bothered to do that.