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yummymummy30

suspicion of benefit fraud as living with partner

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Hi

I need some advice.

I was a single parent with two small children, claiming income support, housing benefit and council tax benefit. My partner moved in before xmas 18.12.08, we intended to inform the authoritative agencies of this once we had got xmas out of the way, unfortunately a couple of days after xmas my dad was rushed into hospital with malaria (cerebral), he was on life support for a month and sadly died in the beginning of february.

 

Since then I have really been so distressed about everything and informing the authorities was the last thing on my mind, just trying to cope with everyday things took so much physical and mental effort. I was on and off anti depressants.

 

Bringing things up to date, I received a letter from the fraud investigation team from the dwp regarding an appointment fo an interview under caution because they had grounds to believe i was commiting a criminal offence i was living with an un-declared partner, have seen a solicitor and taken legal advice who will write to the dwp on my behalf and explain the situation, i have informed the solicitor to be totally honest as i dont want to get into more trouble.

 

We weren't getting working tax credits, we would have got some help with housing benefit and council tax, and as i am severely disabled i would have been given incapacity benefit i had filled this form in but this was received a few days before my dad was rushed into hospital so never got dealt with.

 

Does anybody know what will happen, the amount involved if they take note of wat we should have got is a couple of hundred pounds at most, there was no intent to defraud, although i do admit we should have informed then he had moved in.

 

Please help, i am convinced i will go to prison and they will take my two children into care.

Edited by yummymummy30

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I am not here to judge, so please be aware that my post is based on how the fraud team will look at matters. Be assured, first of all that a court will not likely you to prison for a few hundred pounds. And it is a court who would decide on that, not the fraud department. They will decide whether or not to send the matter to court.

 

No-one can say for sure what will happen, but it can range from anything from a caution, a fine, paying back the money, community service or a prison sentence. Sanctions can also be applied to future benefit claims.

 

From their point of view, it will likely be viewed as an intention to defraud because you never actually informed them of your change of circumstances until you were "caught out". They will be considering whether you actually had any intention of informing them at all, or if you are only admiting to it now because you have been caught. To be fair, your partner moved in in December last year and it is now almost July. That's over 6 months, which is a long time not to declare it.

 

For fraud to perform an interview under caution they must have significant evidence that you were commiting fraud, not mere suspiscion. This can be a variety of types of evidence which can include surviellence.

 

You would not have been given Incapacity Benefit - this benefit ceased to exist for new claimants on 27th October 2008. Whether or not you would have qualified for the replacement benefit ESA would depend on several factors, including an independent report from ATOS. There is no automatic right to disability benefits because you have a disability, each case is decided on the individual circumstances of that case. The fraud team will not look at whether or not you may or may not have been entitled. Many people complain when they apply for something and are refused, by stating that they could have claimed benefits but chose not to, or were too ill to claim and feel they have "saved the government money" and therefore discretion should be applied to them. Unfotunately it doesn't quite work like that. The fraud team's role is to discover and stop fraud and if necessary take further action, they don't consider what you may have been entitled to had you not committed fraud, reported your change of circumstances and claimed the correct benefits.

 

If it's a first offence and a few hundred pounds rather than a few thousand pounds as well as a full admission of what you have done, it is highly unlikely you would be sentenced to prison. What the fraud team will look favourably on is that you have co-operated with them fully and admitted what you have done. You must still attend the interview unless you are told by DWP not to, regardless of your solicitors letter. They are not dealing with your solicitor. Did you sign a DWP mandate for the solicitor to discuss matters with the DWP? They cannot enter into written communication with the solicitor without one. If you are worried about going alone to the interview, you can have a representative with you, and you have a right to this. You also have a right to request a copy of the tape of the interview.


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Hello, I have just had one of these interviews, they were accusing me of having someone live with me (I am a single parent on IS) which I do not!

 

As you have stated that you are living with someone then my advice to you is definately get a solicitor, They do not care what circumstances you have been through-they just want their money. They will twist words.

 

They asked me leading questions to which I know a solicitor would have butted in on those points- But as I have nothing to hide I answered them.

 

Stay calm and focused (easily said, I know) and answer the questions slowly.

 

Good luck and remember it will all work out ok in the end.

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