Error fixed over unpaid bills

Authority Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation

Alex complained that the ministry had not paid an oil bill and a hydro bill that he understood the ministry had agreed to pay. He said that at the time the ministry agreed to pay for the oil, he was in a dispute with his siblings over the ownership of the house that he was living in. After the oil was delivered, but before the ministry paid the final bill, he lost a court battle over the ownership of the house. The outstanding hydro bill was for the period of time that he was still living in the house. Alex told us that the ministry then refused to pay the outstanding utility bills because he no longer owned the house.

It was unclear how the ministry reached its decision not to pay the utility bills. We investigated whether the ministry followed a reasonable procedure in response to Alex’s request to have the bills paid. We asked the ministry for an explanation as to what it considered in refusing to pay the utility bills. In response, the ministry confirmed that it appeared to have made an error. The ministry agreed that Alex had ordered the oil relying on the ministry’s assurance to cover the cost and that the hydro bill was from a period where he was still in the house. As a result of our investigation, the ministry agreed to reopen Alex’s file and to pay the utility bills. We considered the ministry’s actions to settle the complaint.

Category Income and Benefits
Type Case Summary
Fiscal Year 2012
Location The North