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Help with Benefit fraud case please


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Hi, this is the first time to this site and I need help, i just dont know where to turn. My boyfriend is being taken to court for claiming carers allowance while working and being paid over the maximum £95 limit. He is being done under section 111A (a) and (3) of the SSAA 1992 (stating dishonestly) rather than 112 (without dishonesty). (And also Section 15A (1) and (5) of the Theft Act 1968. The thing is he didnt even know there was a limit of earnings. A close family member said that he was elligible and actually filled out the form for him (the difference in writing is clear to see on the form). He then just signed it and the family member then sent it off.

 

My boyfriend moved in with his mother who was and is still seriously ill 5 years ago, leaving his job and home in another city. He took over the family business at the same time took wages of £140 per week and has never increased this (This is well below that of what he had earned before and actually if you add up the hours he does it is so far below that of minimum wage it is unbelievable.)

 

At the time of putting in the claim he was under incredible stress due to everything that was going on. I can not understand how they think that he did this knowingly. I have checked on the web and see "Where an offence under s111A is alleged the prosecution must prove dishonesty and that the offender himself realised that he was behaving dishonestly by the standards of ordinary and decent people (the Ghosh test)." (from accountingevidence . com)

 

 

 

He had made a terrible judgement of error in trusting a close member of the family to act on his behalf and not checking before sending the form but he certainly didnt do it with any intent or knowledge. Actually as soon as he had notice last year that this had come to light (and it only did so because he was made a partner in the family business) we went on the web together and checked the entitlements as we couldnt believe that his close member of the family had not known this.

 

I understand that upon signing the form he was signing that everything was correct and he does accept that but his neglect was not due to him wanting to be deceitful or trying to hide something. He has always said that had it not been for the close member of the family saying that he was entitled to this then he would never have claimed as he cant be bothered with the forms.

 

 

I am so scared for him as I know he is a good man, with a good standing within the local community. If he pleads guilty then it is like he is admiting he was dishonest and did this on purpose which he did not. If he pleads not guilty then are they going to throw the book at him? I cant see why the DWP couldnt see and hear this when they took his statement last year. He is set to go to Magistrates court next month. I just dont know what to expect or do. The fact that we have a young baby, we live with his mother and care for her, and there is the family business that can not run without him. What if they put him in jail? Even the thought of having a criminal record is distroying him. I dont know where to turn and what we should do. Please please please, if you have any advise let me know.

Thanks

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Lady at works gets carers allowance & was only saying the other day she doesn't know what she is allowed to earn now! She suddenly had a bit of a panic when we were talking about it & had to check on line. Luckily she is below the amount. But it's not always common knowledge with people, & of course it changes.

I do hope he has a solicitor?

I agree that he shouldn't be pleading guilty to something he didn't intentionally do.

They need to prove he intentionally did it 'beyond reasonable doubt' in court, not sure how they can do that?

And dont be worrying about prison. Its very very rare that people go to prison, even for 100's of thousands over paid!

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Thanks for your reply. He does have a solicitor but he wont see him until 1 week before the case and has already suggested he pleads guilty to get a leaner sentence. I can see his point but it seems crazy that "justice" would work that way. Right at the beginning, when they started investigating we all thought - they can see the situation, they can speak to people who were around at the time to find out what the circumstances were and surely they will see that this was not intentional. But no they didnt, all they did was gather the material facts, that a form was filled in incorrectly and was signed by him. They dont seem to be interested in hearing anything else. I know they have a job to do and yes there are people who do go out and intentionally take money from the system they are not due but the system doesnt seem to be able to or want to differentiate between the two. Upshot is that a good man may have his reputation soiled for good. Makes you realise that there are always 2 sides to the story. I just hope the magistrates will be able to see this.

Thanks again

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I agree that it's crazy that people are encouraged to plead guilty for a lesser sentence, I mean come on, the law shouldn't work like that! Of course people should plead guilty if they are, but it comes to something when you do it because of fear.

The great British justice system! Actually it goes on world wide, so not even unique to here.

When I claimed carers allowance for my son, I didn't actually do the forms either thinking about it. It was his TASS teacher that got that for us, & the DLA middle rate.

It was about 10 years I had that & wouldn't have had a clue what rules went with it thinking back!

The stress your partner must be under, well, both of you :|

It's hard to say what we would do as we're not in that situation, but I would like to think I wouldn't plead guilty. Guilty is doing something like that intentionally. You're suppose to swear to tell the truth in court, how can you be doing that if you plead guilty when you know you're not?

Can you let us know how he gets on? I know it's not a busy site, but waaaay more people in the similar situation read these threads than post in them, so it will be helping someone else x

 

edited to add: Magistrates are more limited to the sentence they hand out than crown court remember. x

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Hi, this is the first time to this site and I need help, i just dont know where to turn. My boyfriend is being taken to court for claiming carers allowance while working and being paid over the maximum £95 limit. He is being done under section 111A (a) and (3) of the SSAA 1992 (stating dishonestly) rather than 112 (without dishonesty). (And also Section 15A (1) and (5) of the Theft Act 1968. The thing is he didnt even know there was a limit of earnings. A close family member said that he was elligible and actually filled out the form for him (the difference in writing is clear to see on the form). He then just signed it and the family member then sent it off.

 

My boyfriend moved in with his mother who was and is still seriously ill 5 years ago, leaving his job and home in another city. He took over the family business at the same time took wages of

£140 per week and has never increased this (This is well below that of what he had earned before and actually if you add up the hours he does it is so far below that of minimum wage it is unbelievable.)

At the time of putting in the claim he was under incredible stress due to everything that was going on. I can not understand how they think that he did this knowingly. I have checked on the web and see "Where an offence under s111A is alleged the prosecution must prove dishonesty and that the offender himself realised that he was behaving dishonestly by the standards of ordinary and decent people (the Ghosh test)." (from accountingevidence . com)

 

 

 

He had made a terrible judgement of error in trusting a close member of the family to act on his behalf and not checking before sending the form but he certainly didnt do it with any intent or knowledge. Actually as soon as he had notice last year that this had come to light (and it only did so because he was made a partner in the family business) we went on the web together and checked the entitlements as we couldnt believe that his close member of the family had not known this.

 

I understand that upon signing the form he was signing that everything was correct and he does accept that but his neglect was not due to him wanting to be deceitful or trying to hide something. He has always said that had it not been for the close member of the family saying that he was entitled to this then he would never have claimed as he cant be bothered with the forms.

 

 

I am so scared for him as I know

he is a good man, with a good standing within the local community
. If he pleads guilty then it is like he is admiting he was dishonest and did this on purpose which he did not. If he pleads not guilty then are they going to throw the book at him? I cant see why the DWP couldnt see and hear this when they took his statement last year. He is set to go to Magistrates court next month. I just dont know what to expect or do. The fact that we have a young baby, we live with his mother and care for her, and there is the family business that can not run without him. What if they put him in jail? Even the thought of having a criminal record is distroying him. I dont know where to turn and what we should do. Please please please, if you have any advise let me know.

Thanks

 

I can certainly feel for him. Accepting things are right after somebody you trust does it for you is so unfortunate. My husband has been caught out this way many times in his life. He now trusts and believes no one. It gets to a point that you end up believing that there is no one capable of being honest anymore. It's a horrible way to live.

 

I have highlighted two aspects of your posting. Although you mention his earnings being over the limit, what you also mention that he worked long hours for little pay. You do know that you have to demonstrate also that he cared for the person for at least 35 hours every week. Which is on average a minimum of 5 hours a day, every day. How did he manage this? Maybe this will come out in the prosecution's case.

 

I presume that in pleading not guilty he is aware that the case may go to the Crown Court for trial?

One thing I would say is that the sentencing of people in the lower court is very much less. In Crown Court the maximum i believe is up to 7 or maybe 10 years! Very few ever get that mind you.

 

However I have also highlighted another aspect of the case. His good standing in the community. Magistrates, Judges and the CPS see that as a case sometimes that should be prosecuted. As an example to others and that people of that standing are not above the law.

Take two people with identical offences, one has had no education, comes from a broken home, etc etc, and the other is a Councillor, went to public school, has a good degree and a very good job. If both were prosecuted the former would be dealt with more leniently, but it is likely that only the latter would be prosecuted.

 

You have to weigh up what would happen in Crown Court with a not guilty plea and then be found guilty by trial. What sentence would he get?

As opposed to saying you are guilty (even though you know you aren't - those are miles apart in today's system) in Magistrates, hoping the magistrate doesn't send him to Crown to be sentenced, but instead receives a Community Service and fine. Yes he has admitted it, and with that everyone will know that he is a common benefit cheat.

 

It's a gamble of being found innocent or having a harsher sentence handed down! That is why most people now plead guilty, irrespective if they are, to ensure they get a lighter sentence. Not right - but that is how it is.

I do wish you all the luck in the world and make sure you get the best barrister that money can buy.

Edited by SueP1944
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Is it normally less than 10k ends up in magistrates? But 5 years carers is about 12k?

How wrong is it that people are bullied into pleading guilty though? Damned if you do, damned if you dont really. Guilty plea will go in the paper & ruin a reputation, not guilty plea will probably ruin the reputation less, but inflicts a harsher sentance if found guilty.

Strange world we live in!

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It isn't clear from your post (unless I have missed it) whether or not he was earning the £140 a week when the claim was made and whether or not the claim is wrong right from the start.

If that is the case, that is seen as a more serious offence as it may be viewed by the court as a deliberate attempt to make a fraudulent claim. Maybe that is where the 'dishonesty' has come from.

 

In addition, a letter has been sent each year which lists all the information which is to be notified (and as far as I know - the earnings rule for that year).

 

No one can say what the Court may say, or whether or not it will stay in Magistrates for sentencing. If you could say how much the overpayment is for it might help people advise you of what might happen

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kk3852

 

i did think that a letter would go out each year confirming new rate, do these letters also include the earnings limit?

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kk3852

 

i did think that a letter would go out each year confirming new rate, do these letters also include the earnings limit?

 

Yes, they do.

 

I think this is where he will struggle in his defence, because a letter is issued annually which advises of the annual uprates, the increase in the earnings limit and lists other changes of circumstances that need to be declared. The trouble is that many people don't read these letters in detail. They open them, scan them and chuck them in the bin. But because the department have issued them, in general it is not accepted that the claimant didn't know, because they have been informed.

 

I've dealt with a few cases where the argument is that someone else completed the form, but I've never seen this argument succeed where the claimant has signed the declaration without there being good reason - such as it being proven that at the time they signed the declaration, they were mentally incapacitated to a point where it would have been impossible for them to comprehend the information in the form or what they were signing. I dealt with such a case once, it was a very sad set of circumstances. But it went in the claimant's favour.

 

I also have seen successes where the claimant has not signed the declaration but has submitted a letter giving someone else permission to make the application on their behalf, and the DWP have overlooked the fact that it isn't the claimant who signed the declaration but the third party making the application on the claimant's behalf.

 

The declaration on the form reads:

I declare that the information given on this form is correct and complete as far as I know and believe. I understand that if I knowingly give information that is incorrect or incomplete, I may be liable to prosecution or other action. I understand that I must promptly tell the office that pays

my Carer’s Allowance of anything that may affect my entitlement to, or the amount of, that benefit.

The form specifically asks about employment. If a tick appears in the "no" box to the question
Have you been employed at any time since six months before the date you want to claim from?
and no question about employment has been answered, then it will be treated as fradulent from the outset, which carries a harsher penalty.

 

In signing the declaration, he is confirming that the information given within it is, as quoted: "correct and complete as far as I know and believe". The argument I've seen put forward before is that if he hadn't read the information written on the form then he couldn't have known or believed anything contained within it, thus the declaration is false either way.

 

The DWP have to refer any case to the prosecution division where an overpayment exceeds £2000.

 

There may however be scope for the overpayment sum to be reduced. Has anyone spoken to him about allowable expenses?

My advice is based on my opinion, my experience and my education. I do not profess to be an expert in any given field. If requested, I will provide a link where possible to relevant legislation or guidance, so that advice provided can be confirmed and I do encourage others to follow those links for their own peace of mind. Sometimes my advice is not what people necesserily want to hear, but I will advise on facts as I know them - although it may not be what a person wants to hear it helps to know where you stand. Advice on the internet should never be a substitute for advice from your own legal professional with full knowledge of your individual case.

 

 

Please do not seek, offer or produce advice on a consumer issue via private message; it is against

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Thanks for your information. Yes he did get the letters and yes like most people he scanned it, saw that allowance was increasing say by 17p and then chucked it. You mention allowable expenses. No one has asked him about that. When he moved in with his mother he worked on the house - putting in hand rails, building a slope to aid her access. He put wooden type floor down, took old carpet up and sanded down floorboards and redecorated basically the downstairs. He paid and did the work himself. Could this be an allowable expense? Do you have any more information available?

 

Someone mentioned about caring for 35 hours a week which is easily down when you take into consideration personal care, cooking and feeding, washing and ironing and assistance during the night as required. Also the nature of the family business means that he works 7 days a week.

 

Thanks

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The allowable expenses is things like NI, tax and something about pensions contributions. (half, I think)

 

You do know that you have to demonstrate also that he cared for the person for at least 35 hours every week. Which is on average a minimum of 5 hours a day, every day. How did he manage this?

 

it's perfectly possible that he didn't care for her for 5 hours a day and 7 days a week. He could've done most of the caring at the weekend. It doesn't say anywhere how these 35 hours have to add up. So, he may care for her for an hour in the morning each day, someone comes in and cares for her when he's at work, he cares for her for 2 hours each evening (that takes it up to 21 per week) and 14 hours over the weekend.

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