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  1. Dear All Firstly, I'm SO sorry that I haven't posted since my IUC but firstly, I put it all behind me as though it was all over forever and then I was struck down by the most horrendous flu virus, from which I'll still at home recovering as I write. The IUC was pretty much as I expected. I'd researched it, heeded all your good advice, and had a fairly good idea of what to expect. I'd spent hour upon hour preparing a huge dossier which comprised character reference letters from my parents and friends; my own statement as to the events leading to my feeling forced into temping whilst claiming; all my jobsearch evidence (well over 700 jobs applied for!); all of my written/emailed requests for help and advice from various organisations (Jobcentre Plus, CAB, Shelter, TV shows etc etc) as well as full details of the work I'd done and payslips received whilst claiming. I'd given my solicitor a hard copy of the dossier and emailed him an update the day before the IUC. (I hadn't been very impressed with my so-called solicitor at all, because I'd had to chase and chase for a response to anything so I began to wonder whether I should have gone elsewhere.) On the day, I felt sick with nerves but knew that I'd done everything I could to explain my case. I dressed smartly, and arrived in good time to meet my solicitor's representative. To my horror, she had not been briefed AT ALL about my case, let alone been handed the dossier I'd worked so hard on. I was bloody furious, really upset, went to pieces and became very tearful. She was very apologetic but quickly scanned through my dossier and asked relevant questions, so, luckily for me, she was a smart lady and quickly got hold of the salient points. My lawyer went in to see the investigators first and then came out to tell me that they only knew about a short spell of my working whilst claiming. However, I was adamant that I wanted to hand over all the evidence that I'd prepared and admit to 19 weeks of working/claiming in total, not just the 6-7 weeks that they knew about. I just hope that my honesty will go in my favour as much as possible. The taped IUC itself was fairly quick and concise and, although I was sobbing (much to my annoyance - I couldn't help myself) I explained that I had done everything in my power to seek extra help and advice before being forced into a law-breaking situation. The investigators were as nice as they could possibly be within the confines of their permitted behaviours and they suggested I forward to them my actual timesheets rather than just payslips. This is because there might be some days that can be excluded if I didn't work, took time out to attend interviews etc. I was advised that it could take weeks/months before I hear anything and I asked if they could do their utmost to let me know asap, explaining that it's hell living in limbo. Afterwards, I returned home and was utterly exhausted, so slept for most of the day. The next day, I returned to my temping job feeling bizarrely elated as though it was all over. It is not, of course, as I now await the outcome. Shortly after that I was floored by a virus which has made me feel more ill than I can ever remember feeling before. Sadly, it's forced me to take time off work and, as a temp, I won't be paid, so that will only exacerbate my already dire financial situation. I feel too ill to even worry about it right now, but I know it'll all catch up with me. This is the first day for ages that I've bothered to turn my PC on, hence being so delayed in posting. I still haven't submitted my timesheets to the investigators but hope to feel well enough to do so within the next day or so, with apologies for the delay. So now we wait! I pray for a sensible outcome and hope I'm not 'crushed' further when hear any news. Again, my heartfelt thanks to you all for your good wishes, great advice and friendly support. Also, the best of luck to anyone awaiting an IUC or the outcome of one. My personal statement within my dossier ended with this: I would like to end with two points: 1. The DWP currently run an advertising campaign which proudly announces “Last year, we caught 56,493 benefit thieves”. Undoubtedly some of these people will have had criminal intentions and be driven by greed, but statistically this is likely to be a small percentage. Surely, what this actually highlights is the fact that the benefits system does not support people as it should. At least two television series have recently proven the fact that people are unable to survive on benefits. The majority of people are not greedy or evil, just desperate to survive in a system that prevents them from doing so. 2. I did not want to cheat the system – but I could not risk losing my house as I do not have other options for accommodation. I still await an answer to the question that I have been asking all the way through this stressful time: “what could I have legally done to bridge the large gap between benefits and what I absolutely had to pay monthly, just to keep the roof over my head”? Bright blessings to you all. xXx
  2. My heart goes out to you and I sincerely hope that all works out well for you. Bright blessings xXx
  3. Thank you SO much everyone. Off to bed already as I've a thumping headache, so here's hoping for some rest. Goodnight and Godbless one and all xXx
  4. Well folks, it's the day before my IUC and I am having to 'brave face it' at work in my temping job but shaking like a leaf underneath it all. I saw the solicitor last week and presented him with a huge dossier of info which proves how hard I have worked to find a job and seek help with my situation. I became incredibly tearful in telling my story, but he seemed quite reassuring and advised that he feels I will incurr a caution and, naturally, have to repay every penny. Let's hope he's right and that nothing worse happens. Despite my medication starting to kick in a 'prop me up' if you like, I'm growing increasingly panicky and fearful because I have worked tirelessly on my dossier and am STILL having to chase all and sundry for assistance: The solicitor said a doctor's letter might help my case, so I wrote to the doctor that same day asking for this and clearly stating that I would need the letter by today. I hand-delivered my letter to the surgery and so far have had to chase three times. The letter is finally awaiting the doctor's signature, apparently, so I'm still awaiting the call saying I can go collect it. I spent an intense weekend updating my dossier and it's now 175 pages - all showing proof of how I've asked so many organisations for their advice and assistance ... and then chased and chased for responses. I emailed this to the solicitor and asked him to acknowledge receipt and let me know the name of the person who would be attending my IUC with me tomorrow. At this time, I have now chased that twice by email and once by phone but am still to receive the response I have so urgently requested. (I'm now wondering if I'm in the best hands for representation tomorrow...?) In short and without going into tons more boring detail, I have had and continue to have to chase every single person who has been contacted about this matter. I'm left wondering if anyone out there actually does their job properly any more...? Instead of feeling supported by the so-called professionals, I am left feeling very alone and extremely frightened. I'm very grateful for the support of everyone who's posted a reply on here - heartfelt thanks to you all. I will let you know how it went when I return from my IUC tomorrow ... probably after a sleep as that's all I want to do right now! Bright blessings to you all. xXx
  5. Thanks SO much everyone. I really appreciate the comforting words and good advice. Feeling a bit flat I'm afraid, as the dark cloud hanging over me did (despite my best efforts) bring me down and my birthday was very quiet and low key. Mind you, I don't expect surprises these days (Jonny Depp doesn't phone, doesn't write ...) Goodnight and pleasant dreams to you all.
  6. Bless you honeybee13! Thank you very much. I am counting my blessings as my darling parents [though elderly] live nearby and are waiting to see me in order to feed me up and give me gifts and cards. Also, my increasingly troublesome situation over the past few years, coming to a head with this IUC etc, has sorted the wheat from the chaff amongs my friends and so-called friends! No matter how bad it gets, there are always blessings to be counted, n'est pas? Have a good day yourself. Thanks and warmest regards x
  7. Thank you ALL so much for your kind and thoughtful messages of support, empathy and good advice. They are all very much appreciated. I have an appointment with a solicitor on Thursday 4th March, but that's getting rather too close to the IUC itself (10th March) for my liking. As far as I know, this will only be the initial free consultation wherein the solicitor will find out about my case and see if I'm eligible for legal aid. (I have not a penny to my name, so I'm totally up the creek without a paddle if he can't help me!). I've spent time on the PC putting together my 'story' and have gone back through my records in order to make a spreadsheet showing ALL the temp work I did whilst having to still claim. It's lucky that I'm so organised because all my payslips had been emailed to me by my temp agencies, so finding them was easy. To my surprise, I only actually worked 'illegally' for 19 weeks! Because I was SO worried throughout, it felt as though I'd be doing this for ages. I've been really 'up and down' emotionally and cried buckets in front of my doctor last week. He's prescribed Prozac and wanted to sign me off from my temp job for at least 3 weeks, but I simply cannot afford not to work, no matter how I feel, especially with this payback and potential fine hanging over me. (I agree 'freedom-trail': how perverse indeed would a further financial punishment be seeing as all this mess was caused by a lack of funds in the first place. That's just typical of this country though, isn't it? As you rightly say, I hardly used the money to fund a lavish lifestyle). I had a few days of kind of respite last week, when I felt that I was getting extra help from someone/somewhere as the heavy worry felt as though it had been pulled away from me slightly. However, other day to day problems send me straight back into the downward spiral (a car breakdown is the latest slap in the face that fate has dealt me) and it frightens me to see how easily I completely fall apart. "lil miss stressed": it was good (in an odd way) to hear that you went through the same emotions - although I wish I could wave a wand and take all this away from any of us who are genuinely not criminal-minded. It's a concern to hear that your situation has dragged on for so long. Any news yet? "the_freedom_trail": thank you so much for your good advice which I am trying to heed. Your reply was sensibly thought-out and helps me to see things more in perspective. "MIKEY DABODEE": thank you for your kind message too, which again comforted me. As aforementioned, I'm preparing for the worst but hoping for the best. "Kelcou": thank you for your further message. The housing association won't play ball at all sadly and I've clearly a cause for complaint there (which is another story and yet another item to add to my list of 'fire fighting' work to undertake! It's relentless!). My only options really are to either sell my house or take in lodgers - neither of which are straightforward at all in my case. I feel really trapped and frightened. Today is my birthday and I've taken a paid day's holiday from my temp job in the hope of escapism. However, my ailing car has put paid to that. Tsk ... life just continues to crap on me from a great height!!! lmao! On a more positive note, I hereby declare that I am 27 today, not 47!!! Bright blessings and warmest regards to you all. xXx
  8. Thank you all so much for your replies, which have brought me a degree of comfort. I am preparing for the worst, but hoping for the best. It would seem like total madness if I got a fine, but it would be typical of this darned country I'm afraid. If you're poor, you get penalised left right and centre and made to pay more for things ... on what planet does that make sense ?!? Kelcou (Rae) - thanks for the suggestion re trying to change my housing scheme. On explaining my plight (before all this kicked off) my housing association said that they might be able to buy back my 50% share of the half in order to clear my (troublesome) mortgage and allow me to remain in situ as a tenant, paying full rent. Sadly, once I'd formally applied, they said they were unable to help! I appealed but have now been declined twice. If I don't get evicted as a result of this (which I'm scared about) I will either have to sell (not easy, as I can't even afford the HIPs pack or the £175 for the compulsory valuation that the housing association insist upon) or move into my lounge and rent both bedrooms out. The latter is far from ideal as the house needs some tlc which costs. Mikey - you seem to speak with authority about this and I found comfort in your positivity. Thank you very much. Janieski - hmmm, makes you wonder about the expenses scandal, doesn't it? Thank you for the kind words: I will try to look after myself but the stress is taking it's toll. It's true what they say about stress hormones - they've pumped up my 'spare tyre' no end, which just adds to the general crappiness of the whole situation. Thank you all for your thoughts and kind replies which are very much appreciated. Bright blessings to you all.
  9. Hi everyone I've just found this site online and registered for the first time. I am in an awful state (crying, scared and extremely overwrought) and would be grateful for any advice anyone can offer please. I am 47, single with no partner or children (sadly) and have a modest shared ownership property - meaning that I have a mortgage on 50% and pay rent to a housing association on the other 50%. Having lost my job in July 2008, I claimed Job Seeker's Allowance, Housing Benefit, Council Tax Benefit/relief and, after a long drawn out battle managed to get the Jobcentre to contribute just a *tiny amount towards my monthly mortgage. * I was devastated to learn that they 'disallowed' the remortgage I'd taken in 2006 because it was mainly for the purposes of debt consolidation, so they only paid interest on the amount of my original mortgage, which was only one-third the size of my current mortgage! Doesn't that seem mad?! If I'd been better off an had remortgaged for the purposes of home improvements or something, it might've been allowed! This country only helps those who are well off to start with, it seems! My lender has been incredibly unhelpful and refused to bring down my supposedly 'variable rate' in line with national interest rate drops - but that's another story I guess). I was working really hard to find another job and whilst I was extremely grateful for the benefits I received, I was short by about £500 monthly for my essential/compulsory outgoings only, before even thinking about food and suchlike. I contacted the C.A.B., the Jobcentre and Shelter asking each one what I could do to legally make up that money in order to survive, but no-one could offer any help or advice at all. (In fact, one of the young girls I saw at Shelter was positively rude and ignorant - she looked at my financial spreadsheet, said "I can't do anything to help you" and went off to lunch leaving me sitting there, in stunned silence!) It transpired that if I earned any money whatsoever (even through selling personal belongings!) it should be declared and would be deducted from my benefits. In Jan 2009 I was kind of glad I wasn't working because my 80 year old father suffered a heart attack, underwent major surgery and every day for 3 weeks I took my 76 year old Mother on the 60 mile round trip to visit him in hospital. (I received no help with travel costs and were it not for my poor Mum and brother forking out for fuel - neither of whom could really afford it - I would not have been able to visit Dad in hospital at all). In March 2009 I was offered a temporary job and, although the wage was to be much lower than my previous roles, I of course had to accept it and was glad to return to work. I fully intended to sign off benefits, of course, but didn't do so immediately as I'd built up mortgage and rent arrears which I wanted to try and clear in order to remove the threat of repossession. However, even with the benefits still in place and the temping job, I was still only just about able to make ends meet. I should point out here that for at least the last few years I’ve been leading a very quiet and frugal little life, spending only what's essential and never going out anywhere. I don't drink or smoke (can't afford to) and my only indulgence/entertainment is the TV, computer and my dear little house rabbit, who is very cheap to keep anyway. I'm afraid I felt forced into continuing to temp and claim until I finally got a permanent job and signed off in December 2009. (Unfortunately, that job didn't work out and when I received the offer of another temp assignment starting this March, I sought advice from the Jobcentre who agreed I should take it as the opportunities were better. They advised that if/when the temp job ended, I could claim again if I hadn't found a permanent job beforehand. They were very helpful and supportive - as they knew the mad old bint I'd been working for!) Please believe me when I say that I suffered dreadfully all the way through with hideous anxiety, depression and fear. I was desperate to be able to sign off and come clean all the way through, but was really desperate, financially, just to keep going. I am a hard working, honest person and I spend my life 'giving' and doing nice things for other people, and this situation was causing me a horrendous amount of stress. Last week I received the letter I had been dreading, summoning me to an interview under caution on 10th March. I completely fell apart and have been sobbing ever since. I am living in absolute abject terror of what will happen. At the risk of sounding melodramatic, I can't eat or sleep, I've got a constant 'heavy' feeling in my chest and I feel as though I'm going to drop dead through sheer angst and heart failure! (I've asked friends and family not to have me resuscitated if I do as I just find this life too hard and would love to go to sleep and never wake again!) I've emailed the C.A.B. requesting advice and have also requested a call on Monday evening from www.communitylegaladvice.org.uk I do, of course, realise that I'll have to repay the money and fully intend to be completely honest about everything, but I'm worried sick that · I could be evicted from my home · I might have to go to prison (I’d die!) · I’ll get a criminal record and will never be able to get a decent job again in order to ever get life back on track · When my current temporary job ends I’ll not be allowed to claim and I will have no income whatsoever Hindsight tells me that I should have sold my house long ago and moved back in with my parents, but they only have a very small and modest 2-3 bed bungalow and have separate bedrooms since Dad’s heart op. They'd always wanted a proper dining room and when my brother an I eventually left home, they finally turned bedroom 3 into the long awaited dining room. Going back home would not only mean they have to lose their dining room again, but would cause them a great deal of upheaval but also physical work that they’re not fit for as they’d have to clear out their dining room so I could have a bedroom. They're wonderful, loving and supportive and would welcome me with open arms, but I don’t want to put them through all that. They're devastatingly upset now on knowing what hell I'm going through. I’m so sorry that this is such a long post. There’s a lot more I could add, but I’ll leave it there. Thank you for reading and if anyone has any words of wisdom to offer me, I’d be really grateful. Blessings to you all. Damsel-in-Distress
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