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interview under caution - benefit fraud

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Please can anyone help Ive been called for an interview under caution at the local jobcentre by the fraud investigation centre, they say there are grounds to suspect I may have committed a criminal offence in relation to a benefit claim because of undeclared changes in my circumstances.

Theres no details about what they think Ive done or which benefit it is although theyve stopped almost everything, atm I receive (or did) Income Support, Invalidity Benefit, Housing Benefit, Council Tax Benefit, all stopped I also get DLA care component middle rate and high rate mobility and my wife gets carers for me and child benefit for our three kids.

 

I think its because I started doing some therapeutic work for a local charity with the support of the mental health team I am under the supervision of, I have bipolar disorder and various other ailments. I didnt realise I had to tell the benefits agency about this work, Ive recently changed cpn as my old one died and he took care of all that stuff for me, I know its no excuse to not know but its the truth its only since this all came about that Ive checked and it needs to be reported to them.

 

whats likely to happen am I going to go to jail for this? its triggered my illness and atm Im back and forwarwards to the doctors and psychiatrists and have even been offered a stay in the psych wing of the hospital but as my interview is next wednesday I cant leave my wife and kids at home to faceall this alone I just need some help. Weve got a solicitor and the mental health advocate involved but it seems so haphazard we arent seeing the solicitor til the actual interview is this normal?? I am so scared I realise Ive got no one to blame but myself but I dont know where to turn.

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Can you give a few more details of the work you've been doing. When from, hours per week & earnings?

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I started about 10 months ago when they asked me to look at what IT and equipment theyd need in the village hall (thats the charity I was talking about) I probably did a couple of hours a week looking at stuff for kitting it out over a period of six or so months until it opened in April this year. Since then I have been in the IT section for four or five days a week sometimes (depending on my own health), most days not doing anything at all just playing on my own computer but sometimes I have logged people on to the computers I would be there for maybe 3 hours a day. I gave lessons to some oaps on how to use the internet with them paying the hall for the use of the computers £4 each it came to about £90 something but it all went through the internet cafe and not me and I didnt get paid for iteven thoI signed the receipts.

I got reimbursed expenses for stuff I bought for the hall paper inks and for phone calls I made to various people when researching the equipment but tbh I cant rmember how much or even if I cclaimed for everything I spent, my illness and the meds affects my memory awfully.

The other part of this is my wife also worked at the hall initially therapeutically as well, as directed by the carers group who help her cope with life with me, however the advice she was given by them about not having to tell the dwp for the first three months was wrong. She contacted them after this three months was up and passed on all the details and filled in all the forms and everything...... reading it back it sounds so bloody stupid now especially having read through all the sites about therapeutic work and reporting everything and just letting em know what youre doing.

In addition I have a massive problem with authority figures in that I tend to agree with anything they say and I cannot disagree with them or contradict them due to some serious problems and issues from my past, I have had many many hours of therapy and analysis but it hasnt altered it properly and at times of great stress I go to pieces this really scares me about the interview especially as I havent had chance to speak to the solicitor before we go in to the meeting.

 

Thanks for reading

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You just need to be honest. Admit that you have done this voluntary work and you were unaware you had to inform DWP. It would be extremely harsh for any sentance to be imposed on you - if you are still doing this voluntary work ask them if you can still do it whilst claiming your benefits. As long as they can see it benefits your health condition and you are not working more than 16 hrs a week then it would normally be fine. Honesty is always the best policy with Fraud investigators though - remember they are not there to throw the book at you - they are just trying to protect public funds, once they are aware of your situation then hopefully common sense will be applied! Good luck mate.

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I've not got time to do a full reply now, but if no one else gets back to you before, I'll be back tomorrow evening. However in the mean time could you just clarify, have you been paid a wage or has it all been expenses?

 

Therapeutic work has not existed for about 8 years now, it was replaced by Permitted Work. Theses are the rules, have a read of them. You mentioned you were supervised so does Supported Permitted Work fit what you have been doing?

 

http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/disabledpeople/financialsupport/dg_10020667

 

"do Supported Permitted Work and earn up to £93.00 a week for as long as you are receiving Incapacity Benefit

Supported Permitted Work means work that is supervised by someone who is employed by a public or local authority or a voluntary organisation, and whose job it is to arrange work for disabled people. This could be work done in the community or in a sheltered workshop. It also includes work as part of a hospital treatment programme".

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Im not doing it anymore as soon as this call came in and his attitude (which I can partly understadn) I have been really ill since and its been a merry go round of drs cpn visits and psychiatrists, I have no intention of being anything but honest but tbh I dont think I will ever do any voluntary work again as this has come from a report from someone in the community and it kinda destroys your faith in human nature when you dothings for your community and someone in it reports you for it.

 

The bit thats really worrying me is like I said the whole authority figure problem, I dont want to admit to stuff I havent done and get into trouble just because of mental health issues in my own head Im hoping that the mental health advocate is allowed in with me as well as the solicitor because I desperately need someone to be aware of my health at this time.

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Hi, well you won't go to jail! You mention £90 but you didn't get paid this so that's not a problem, I don't know how expenses work but it's obviously a small amount so they wouldn't prosecute. You say you have got a mental health advocate, could they attend with you? I don't know as much as some on here and I'm sure someone who knows more will be along. You really don't need to worry to much though, easier said than done i know!!

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I've not got time to do a full reply now, but if no one else gets back to you before, I'll be back tomorrow evening. However in the mean time could you just clarify, have you been paid a wage or has it all been expenses?

 

Therapeutic work has not existed for about 8 years now, it was replaced by Permitted Work. Theses are the rules, have a read of them. You mentioned you were supervised so does Supported Permitted Work fit what you have been doing?

 

http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/disabledpeople/financialsupport/dg_10020667

 

"do Supported Permitted Work and earn up to £93.00 a week for as long as you are receiving Incapacity Benefit

Supported Permitted Work means work that is supervised by someone who is employed by a public or local authority or a voluntary organisation, and whose job it is to arrange work for disabled people. This could be work done in the community or in a sheltered workshop. It also includes work as part of a hospital treatment programme".

 

 

OK thats really confused me, sorry like I said before meds n illness leave me fuddled a lot of the time. Ill try and answer if Im answering the wrong question I apologise, I didnt get any pay for the work I did, I was reimbursed for money I spent in the course of the research or for any materials I bought once the equipment had been bought. I also had money for petrol and phone calls but again this was minimal and not anywhere near £20 never mind £100 even spread over 6 months, I didnt keep any records tho but Im sure the charity would have done so and I expect the dwp to have got them from them.

it wasnt part of a supported permitted work scheme by supervised I meant my cpn (community psychiatric nurse) was aware of what I was doing and was visiting me monthly/weekly depending how I was and monitoring how it was affecting my health, Im not sure if this would qualify under the rules.

 

I have incap benefit awarded for life along with high rate DLA for life and severe disablement allowance component....or at least I did til this was all suspended for this investigation.

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Right I'm back.

 

Because you are in receipt of several benefits, there are quite a few things they could be looking at.

 

From what you have said it is voluntary work, however you are going to have to try & get some evidence of this. As you don't have any receipts can you get the charity or your CPN to put something in writing to verify this?

 

It can be only classed as voluntary work if it is for a charity, if for any reason the organisation is not accepted as a charity then the employment should be accepted as Permitted Work Lower Level (Earn up to £20 for an indefinite period). That should cover your Incapacity Benefit & there will be no overpayment.

 

Income Support & Housing Benefit both have an earnings disregard. I think it's currently £20 per week, so again if the employment is accepted as either voluntary or Permitted Work Lower Limit then there should be no overpayment there either. You should still have reported the work though, it may have stopped all this disruption.

 

However that still leaves your Disability Living Allowance. You said that the IUC invite letter states its regarding an undeclared change in your circumstances. If it was just about the work you've done, the invite letter should really have said it was “about your employment”. However this is picked from a list of possibilities when the letter is printed.

 

You state you have been awarded DLA middle rate care & high rate mob for life. Whilst this maybe correct, if the way you manage your condition improves you still have to report these changes & your award can be reviewed. You have a pretty high award of DLA. You stated earlier that you've been managing to do the work 4 or 5 times a week. Whilst it is fine to work & receive DLA this may suggest that you are dealing with your condition better than when your DLA was awarded/last reviewed. Does what you are now able to do contradict anything you put on your DLA claim/last review form? If it does then you will have to explain this.

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Sorry I have had a bit more contact from them today which I should have updated but it has left me having to see the doctor and on tranqs ready for the interview.

My incap benefit and DLA is not the subject of the review at all it is purely the income support, the reason everything else has stopped is because I didnt pay enough NI before I started claiming (because I was so young when I started receiving benefit I think) but because of this everything is paid through IS and therefore no money at all other than my wifes child benefit nad carers allowance. The other info is that the mental health advocate cannot come into the inteview with me along with the solicitor as my appropriate adult under PACE, this has left me feeling pretty shook up and I have ben px'd diazepam until after the interview in order to calm me down and let me sleep something Ive struggled with since this all started 10 days ago.

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My incap benefit and DLA is not the subject of the review at all it is purely the income support, the reason everything else has stopped is because I didnt pay enough NI before I started claiming (because I was so young when I started receiving benefit I think) but because of this everything is paid through IS

 

So it appears it is the employment side they are looking at not the DLA.

 

Whilst you may not be receiving payment of Incap, you will still have a claim for it & they will be crediting your National Insurance account each week (this protects your Retirement Pension) & is one of the qualifing conditions for I/S & therefore H/B. So the Voluntary work/Permitted work advice still stands. Try to get the proof as discussed earlier. You can take this with you to the IUC, but you also need to notify both the Incap & Housing Benefit sections.

 

If possible print out the Permitted Work rules & take them with you. You'd be amazed at how many Fraud Investigators don't really understand them!!

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The other info is that the mental health advocate cannot come into the inteview with me along with the solicitor as my appropriate adult under PACE, this has left me feeling pretty shook up

 

The Mental Health Advocate would not have been able to say anything during the IUC, they would just be there for moral support, where as your solicitor will ask for disclosure prior to the IUC. This means they'll have a chat with the investigator, who will tell them what the alleged offence is & what evidence they hold. The solicitor will then be given time to discuss this with you & explain what your options are.

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It was some moral support I was after as Ive said previously I go to pieces in any kind of pressure situation and am dreading just walking in and saying "I stole the crown jewels" or something equally silly because I want to get out as quick as possible. I didnt know about the solicitor getting some time before the actual interview to find out details and we can talk about it, the not knowing what any of this is about is a complete headscrewer as everyone has said on other threads Ive read I just want to be honest and get this sorted out.

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Had my interview todya luckily we had a brilliant solicitor who went through everything with us, before the interview they agreed my wife could come in with me then when we got there they said no she couldnt but theyd be interviewing her immediately after theyd interviewed me, we went through everything they asked and just told the truth despite much huffing and puffing fromt he investigators and scoffing when we were telling them about things...seems as tho a member of the charity hasd tried to stitch us up from the start which wasnt good. The solicitor assue=red us at the end that as far as he could see the situation is not bad and that we do not have much to worry about but we were both issued with CI 11 forms, this has panicked me do they issue these regularly or only if they intend to take you to court ? When he handed me mine the investigator fetched it from out of a file so hed got it written before the interview is this normal?

sorry for the questions again but neither of us has had as much as a parking ticket so this is completely new to us.

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The CI11 - "Notice to persons following interview" is basically the alleged offence in writing & is followed by the 2nd caution (the NOW caution).

 

The district I used to work in stopped doing thsse 2 parts of the IUC a while ago because they are not really required & once done the customer cannot be invited back in for another IUC regarding the same offence. So should any further information come to light (& it often does) it can't be questioned.

 

The fact that you have been issued it doesn't mean they plan to prosecute you. It's not upto them at this stage. A file with all the evidence & a transcript of the IUC will now be sent to the decision making unit. They will decide if any periods of the claim are to be disallowed. If they are an overpayment will be calculated. At that point the file is returned to the fraud department. IF at that stage it is decided an offence has taken place they have 3 options:

 

O

verpayment over £2000 – Repayment & attempted prosecution.

 

O

verpayment less than £2000 but offence not admitted – Repayment, administrative Penalty (30% fine) & Departmental caution.

 

Overpayment less than £2000 but offence admitted – Repayment & Departmental caution.

 

The departmental caution is kept on file for 5 years. It is NOT a criminal record & does not show up on any checks.

 

Hopefully from what you said previously all the work will be allowed & therefore non of the above will come into play.

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Still not heard anything from the DWP regarding the IUC, during the IUC the investigator told my wife that the IS claim could be restarted again from 5th august as she had given up work to look after me again as I had become a bit unwell (understating things a bit) he had a copy of the letter she had sent to IS and said as far as he was concerned there was no reason it couldnt be paid again following that letter being sent to IS. However IS and the local benefits office are saying that we need to make a new claim as a change of circumstance letter is not enough or something (my head isnt too clear atm sorry) they say theyve not had any clearance from the investigator to pay the money yet he said on tape in the interview that it was ok to pay it and there was nothing to stop it being paid nor my Incapacity benefit being paid either but theyre saying he has stopped that too altho at other times they say I havent paid enough credits before starting to claim Incap Benefit. It seems as tho theres always a different reason not to pay, on the 5th of august a lady at the dwp said a letter to say my wife had stopped work was enough to restart the claim was enough to restart the claim yet today a man said that she needed to claim from fresh, is this so they dont have to pay for the four weeks in between that theyve missed? or was the woman on the 5th wrong in the first place? how can we get this sorted or do we have to wait for the decision maker to make his mind up? we are getting 120 a week atm and our rent is 130 along with debts I ran up wwhen manic of nearly 30k on credit cards and bank loans that are due this week, things are getting absolutely desperate and every time we ring the benefits agency peopleo r rather my wife does as I just cant touch the phone atm they give you a different answer, why isnt there a joined up department for all this instead of switching you from one to another all the time.

please help

 

Another thing is when they stopped our benefit we didnt recieve anything in writing about income support the only thing that we got any notice from was the council got nothing from dwp at all just found out when we went to the post office and there was nothing in the account.

Edited by Bipolar bear

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The decision regarding your past periods of benefit will take several months to be sorted.

 

As for your current payments, give the Fraud Investigator a ring. His/her telephone number should be on your IUC letter if you still have it. They need to inform the benefit paying sections of a safe date to start paying you from again. They may want you to complete a new claim first because your old claim is still pending a decision & MAY be disallowed. Therefore you may also be paid at the lowest rate of benefit until the decision is made.

 

After you have spoken to the investigator, phone your usual 0845 number & ask for a call back from the relivant benefit processing supervisor. Your case is far from unique but you do need to be dealing with someone who knows what they are doing or I'm afraid you'll be passed from pillar to post for the next few months.

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Hes on holiday til next week so no hope of getting any help there. Weve been in touch with the bdc and asked for call backs so many times even having the line manager call us back but it just goes round in circles time and time again my wifes becoming ill as well now from the stress

 

to make everything perfect just had a letter from ATOS along with the IB50 form, may as well throw the towel in seems like they cant get you one way theyre gonna get you another.

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Had another letter this morning saying that from 22nd July (date of suspension of benefits pending investigation) we are no longer entitled to Income support as we no longer meet the conditions of entitlement. Now the investigator said it was suspended not withdrawn or stopped, is this something different?? The letter says we have to claim again using a new form is this right or should we reactivate this claim using a shorter claim form available?? within 26 weeks or something. Are they allowed to do this and notify you 6 weeks later as on the 5th of august they told us just to tell them of a change in circumstances and benefits could restart, what is going on?

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Need help and advice again, if I can bring things up to date first:-

The officials who had advised us that my wife could work for three months prior to telling the dwp surprisingly (thats a bit of sarcasm) have denied ever saying anything of the kind which left us with no proof that it was said and meant we had to admit that we did wrong. As far as I can tell because the claim was in my name I will be the only one called to book for this, does this sound right? Our solicitor has been non existant for the past 6 months and I received a letter yesterday stating

 

You were interviewed under caution on xx/xx/xxxx when you admitted that you had commited a criminal offence because of undeclared income (I didnt it was only after they had spoken to the people who had advised us incorrectly and they had refused to repeat the information that I admitted it, basically because there was nothing to back up what happened) It continues :- after the interview you were advised that you would be informed what action would be taken on your case.

The DWP and P/LA are satisfied there are sufficient grounds to recommend instituting criminal proceedings against you but on this occasion we are prepared to consider issuing a caution.

Before this can be done we need to discuss the matter with you. I would be pleased if you could attend [address and time redacted]

 

It states that I can have someone who is responsible for my welfare with me something they singularly refused to allow at the IUC despite knowing of my serious mental ill health.

 

My questions are:-

 

Will they issue the caution there and then?

 

If not what is the purpose of this meeting?

 

Should I only attend with my solicitor present?

 

Should I ask for my MH advocate to attend with me (possibly delaying the meeting)?

 

As this offence occured between 27th March and 22nd July last year does that mean that after accepting the caution they cannot sanction benefits under the new rules as it was partly before the new rules were implementedand they are not allowed to use them retrospectively?

 

Is it wise to accept the caution when, even tho not one person who advised my wife could work therapeutically backed themselves officially, it was a mistake but I was forced to admit wrongdoing due to the aforementioned lack of proof that we were advised wrongly?

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Hello ! I have just read the whole thread... it seems that being offered a caution is the best possible result for you. The alternative would be a penalty (of a 3rd on top to repay) or to be prosecuted in court.

 

If you refuse the caution then you case would be sent to the DWP solicitors to consider a court case.

 

If you accept the caution then no-one will know anything about it as it is kept 'in house'. If your overpayment starts before 1.4.10 then one strike should not be considered. It will however, count towards the old 2 strike rules if there is another investigation which is proved.

 

I dont think that there is any need to take a solicitor with you - you could take someone with you for moral support if you wanted to. But as far as I know, you will just be told not to do it again, to be sure that you report all changes in circumstances and then you will be asked to sign a form.

 

You could contact the person who has written to you and ask them to go over the process with you. This will not be the same person that you saw before but is likely to be another investgator off the same team.

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They need you to admit guilt before they can caution you. If there is a question that you admitted guilt, they probably need to clarify that first? Could be why they want to see you prior to it? Not too sure when they do the caution though.

You should have been able to take someone along to the IUC though. As long as they weren't connected to the case.

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Thats it after 11 months they have issued me with a caution, the investigator was present in the office but not in the meeting and he was obsequious and couldnt do enough to make us comfortable before the meeting and the lady who issued the caution actually treated us like human beings. I think this may have something to do with the investigator not allowing me a suitable person in to accompany me during the interview as our solicitor did intimate they would have prosecuted if it wasnt for my illness, something they had to take into account.

Whatever it is now in the past and not something I want to repeat, so any change in circs no matter how tiny will be reported and they can do whatever they like with the knowledge.

 

Thanks and karma to everyone who has helped us in this instance and good luck to anyone else in the same position as we were.

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Its done now..you can put it all behind you and move on.

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