To Archive List PageIt's sad but true that when it comes to dealing with money; either grabbing it as taxes or handing it out as benefits; government departments are notorious for making a bog of things . . .

The level of incompetence became a national disgrace under New Labour's "no blame, no one is responsible" culture in the civil service, but the Blairies and Brownies merely made a bad situation even worse. As shown by these two letters from 20 years ago. They survived as carbon copies of typewritten letters – so they must be ancient!

To the author's local NI Contributions agency

7th March, 1992

Dear Sirs,

I have informed you that I became self-employed in January by starting a business under the New Business Support scheme. I have also filled in and returned the necessary forms, and a direct debit authorizing you to withdraw National Insurance contributions from my business account.

I have just received a third bank statement of the year, covering February and the beginning of this month, and there are no withdrawals of NI contributions.

Is there any reason for not making the withdrawals? I shall not be amused if your department suddenly starts issuing threats of legal action for non-payment, and I am retaining a copy of this letter for my own protection.

Yours faithfully,

Reply from the Local Mob

11th March, 1992


We have received your enquiry regarding your application to pay self-employed stamps by direct debit.

We no longer deal with these at the local office. All work has been transferred to our office at Newcastle Upon Tyne. I have forwarded your enquiry to them. If you need to contact them please write to:-

Contributions Agency
Central Operations
Newcastle Upon Tyne
NE99 1YX

Yours sincerely

Follow-up letter to the manager of the Newcastle upon Tyne office

10th April, 1992.

Dear Sir,

I have been waiting to pay Class 2 N.I. Contributions since becoming self employed in January of this year.

An age ago, I filled in forms and a direct debit, and returned same to my local DSS office in Stockport.

When I wrote to them last month to ask why no action had been taken, they told me that my enquiry had been forwarded to you.

A month later, my latest statement for my business account shows that you have failed to activate the direct debit.

I find it baffling that a government department should be so reluctant to take money from me, and I am considering getting in touch with the Guinness Book of Records.

If you are incapable of organizing a direct debit, kindly send me a card so that I can stick stamps on it.

If I have not heard from you by the end of this month (April 1992) I shall fax copies of my letters to your head office in London, so be warned.

And if there is any nonsense about penalties for being several months in arrears with my N.I. contributions, the faxes will go to national newspapers.

Kindly take notice that I have made reasonable attempt to pay my N.I contributions, and I accept no responsibility for delays due to your inertia.

There is no reply from Newcastle upon Tyne in the file, but the writer's direct debits did start. Eventually.


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