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Hi all, just discovered this brilliant site and hope someone can help, I'll apologies in advance for this thread being a long one :rolleyes:

 

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.

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Absolutely stick to the truth. If you lie and say you are living as a couple you could find that you could be prosecuted by HB/CTB and not only lose your benefits but have to pay back what they say you owe them. You could also end up with a caution and possibly even a prison sentence.

 

Now if you were a couple and you were on IB, your IB wouldn't be affected by that as it is a non means tested benefit. BUT, they could still try to prosecute you for failign to declare changes in circumstances.

 

Stick to your guns and let them investigate you. If you are beign totally honest then there is nothing they can do. Just because you have someone staying in a spare room in your house does not mean you are a couple and no amount of watching will prove that.

 

I would however speak to the CAB and get them to help you write a letter stating that this harrasment is aggravating your illness.

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Thank you soooo much for your prompt and very helpful reply, and yes I must admit that all the worry over this going on has made me feel physically sick, hence I'm not eating, hence my diabeties has gone haywire causing me to feel very very ill, I'm going to follow your advice, no matter how much pressure they may put on me, I dont see why I should lie and say we are a couple when we're not, I know I'm telling the truth,its just a horrible thought that there is people out there looking into your personal and private affairs and maybe even watching your movements, anyway, thanks again.

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Are you sure that you are getting Incapacity Benefit and not Income Support due to sickness....there would be no reason for DWP staff to interview you if on Incapacity Benefit.

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My weekly payment of £89 is made up of so much incapacity and so much income support, does this make a difference???

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Yes - the income support part is affected by anyone classed as sharing your household. It isn't about if you are a couple but whether or not you share responsibility for the running of the house. ie, doing shopping for the both of you, cooking and eating together, whether neighbours would view you as being a couple etc.

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My weekly payment of £89 is made up of so much incapacity and so much income support, does this make a difference???

 

It does, yes. IB is contributory, which means they wouldn't consider your partner's (or should I say "supposed partner's") income. Hence they'd have no reason to be interested in whether or not you and your lodger were a couple.

 

But IS is means-tested, and so they would look at the income of a person you lived with as if you were married when deciding whether or not you were entitled to benefit and when working out the amount you were due.

 

I realise that's not the case in your situation, since you and he aren't a couple, but it is quite a common fraud and so I can see why the DWP would be looking into things.

 

I have to second the advice that you absolutely should not lie about this. (Disclaimer: I work for the DWP, in a fairly low-level position.) I'm not even talking about it just from a morality point of view, although I do believe that's important. It's just that it's very difficult to sustain a lie, especially since there would be two of you trying to tell the same lie. Sooner or later, you'd get confused and make a mistake, and the consequences of that could be serious.

 

Edit to note kk3852's point above: He or she is absolutely right. The question is less one of whether or not you share a bed and more about whether or not you share responsibilities for the household. There is no hard-and-fast definition used to distinguish between partners (who share these responsibilities) and flatmates (who do not).

Edited by antone

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I can't thank you all enough for your help, I can understand it all a bit more, I've told the truth from the start and have always told them that we DO share the cost of food shopping and bills so I suppose the outcome will probably mean me losing the income support part of my incapacity benefit because of this, its so strange that people find it hard to believe that a male and female cant live under the same roof without being classed as being an item...however, thanks to everyone.

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One thing to remember is that, no matter how it may feel, it isn't actually personal. The DWP is simply a government department, and it acts in accordance with laws and policies set by Parliament. There is a lot of pressure to deal with overpayments and fraud, and unfortunately that means that quite a few innocent, well-meaning and honest people get caught up in the net. To some extent we get the DWP we vote for - the regular tabloid frenzy about "cheats" and "scroungers" has made this sort of thing inevitable.


PLEASE HELP US TO KEEP THIS SITE RUNNING. EVERY POUND DONATED WILL HELP US TO KEEP HELPING OTHERS

 

 

The idea that all politicians lie is music to the ears of the most egregious liars.

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I'm sorry but the partner definition for dwp is:

 

"A person who is married or in a civil partnership with another or who is living together as if they are married or civil partners."

 

Just because you share food and he contributes towards bills, and especially if you informed them of this, does not mean they can treat you as partners.

 

I'm assuming that you have different rooms and don't have a sexual relationship - I would deny any attempts to get you to admit you are classed as partners on the basis you share food and bills.

 

If they were looking for anything else - such as another person in the household but not a potential partner then they would be investigating you for non declaration of a non dependant. They aren't doing that as they have accepted the non-dependant living there.

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