Post-award examinations: Action: Customer asks for more time to reply
If the customer asks for more time to reply to your letter you should handle this request firmly but sympathetically. Your examination will have been opened based on a risk that we are paying too much tax credits so we need to get the information as soon as you can. If a revised decision is needed an overpayment might be building up. However, the customer might have genuine difficulties getting the information and you must consider what they say.
In some situations it might be reasonable to allow a little more time to reply but this will depend on when they contact you and why they cannot reply within the time limit you gave them. Some examples of acceptable situations are:
- They have only just received your letter which was delayed following a postal dispute
- They have approached their bank for duplicate bank statements but the bank say it will take 21 days to provide them
- They no longer have their P60 or payslips and the wages clerk is on 2 weeks annual leave and no-one else can provide the information
- They have just returned from 2 weeks holiday and do not have all of the information in the house
- They have had to ask a third party for some of the information but are about to go on holiday and will not get the details until their return
In these sorts of situations you can allow them another week to provide the full reply and should make a note of this. If the customer asks you to confirm in writing that you have allowed more time you should send them a short letter to confirm the new deadline.
You should not allow more than 7 extra days to reply without discussing the case with your manager. There may be some situations where you and your manger can agree to a longer extension. For example:
- Due to a fire or flood at their home all of their records have been lost or destroyed and they will have to gather all of the details from scratch
- They are currently caring for a critically ill close friend or relative and are not in a position to attend to day to day matters
- They are in hospital for a serious illness and there is no-one who can help them gather the details
Where you agree more than a 7 day extension to the time limit for replying you should send the customer a letter confirming when they must let you have the details.