Hi all, just discovered this brilliant site and hope someone can help, I'll apologies in advance for this thread being a long one
I have lived on my own for years and due to health issues (depression/diabetes/kidney) I've been in reciept of incapacity benefit for around 10yrs, went for medical last year and was told I was entitled to remain on this benefit until at least Nov 2009 before they reviewed my case again. Obviously due to not working and being on incapacity, for years had most of my rent/c.tax paid.
About 3-3.5yrs ago, I was in London visiting old family friend of my parents, he had been through messy divorce and was living in private rent accom. He drove truck for living, during time I was there, he lost vision in one eye and naturally had to stop work, eventually lost his job as he couldn't drive, at same time, landlady of his flat decided to sell up and gave him one mths notice. He was stuck with no money, no job and nowhere to live so I told him he could stay with me until he got on his feet as I had a two bed council house and had the room. Soon as he moved in, I notified the housing of his circimstances and he would be staying with me but made it clear he WAS an family friend and nothing more, also notified the DWP. Rent/c.tax was altered and he paid that, my benefit did not change.
Vision in his eye was sorted, he found a full-time job and I did/do not take any cash from him, we worked out he would buy food/pay bills one week, me next week.
How time flys, he's now been staying with me over three years, out the blue three weeks ago, I got visit from two officials from housing benefit team, apparently they had been informed we were living as a couple and not friends and they had been checking out my whole backround looking for evidence like any joint bank/credit cards etc, however, they wrote saying housing/c.tax benefit would continue but I MUST let them know if circimstances change. I felt awful, and felt privacy was invaded but worse was to come.
Housing/C..Tax benefit closed their investigation BUT I then recieved letter from DWP inviting me for interview which was yesterday. Basically was bullied and told they have powers to do lots of searches on us both, guy told me IF I still insisted on claiming incapacity and they found evidence that I was actually living with my friend as a "couple" I would be prosecuted, I told guy the story but he wasn't happy and he now wants to see me again with my friend there this time too to delve into it deeper, was told I would be watched as well as investigated and if we were found to be spending a lot of time together etc that would go against us. Between the investigation two weeks ago with housing and now this with DWP I've not been eating/sleeping and have made myself so ill.
MY QUESTION; IF just to get peace and stop the harrassment I tell both DWP and Housing Benefit we are now living as a couple (although we are not a true couple) naturally I realise I would lose housing/c.tax benefit and my friend would have to pay the full amount every month, BUT IF I tell the DWP ok, we are living like a couple, ARE THEY entitled to stop my incapacity benefit, if so, my friend would then be responsible for me and I wouldn't actually be getting any financial support at all from anywhere, I THOUGHT I was entitled to incapacity benefit even if I DID HAVE a boyfriend/husband out working for the simple reason I CAN'T work. Please help, should I carry on and let them keep on investigating and prying OR should I tell them to forget it, I am living with my friend as a couple and lose all my benefits, means I would be totally dependent on my friend to financially support me. I'm very confused. Thanks in advance for any help/advice anyone can give me.