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Benefit fraud case. Anybody still willing to help?


Steven1982
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I've heard that people on here are very helpful in general and I really need some advice. I'll just be completely honest.

Today I had my interview and caution. Briefly...I didn't tell them when I became a student. I don't want to make excuses, but here are the circumstances around it. We were claiming ESA but were turned down. I was told that if I was confirmed unable to work then I could work voluntary or study for up to a year. I applied for university thinking everything would be ok. I've suffered with mental health issues for 14 years. Mainly anxiety, panic disorder, paranoia, insomnia. This has been much worse in the last year though.

When I applied for esa again ( as I was too late to appeal) I didn't declare being a student. We didn't get paid for 5 months because the esa claim was within 6 months of the old one. That's why I left it running. We had so many bills after not getting paid all that time it just spiralled out of control and We decided (i mean my partner and I) to move away from each other and I would sign off benefits. We hadn't been getting on anyway. Unfortunately, this has all happened just as we were planing to move out so it was too late.

We were claiming housing benefit and esa (although we didn't have payments of that for 5 months)

I'm wondering what I should do. I've never been even near trouble before. I can't believe I've let this happen.

I'm guessing we'll owe about £7000. I think I'll have to plead guilty to 5 counts or more as esa was changed to jsa for a few weeks and then back onto esa.

I'm not begging for sympathy or anything. I know I've done wrong but my mental state over the past year has been unbearable. I've taken three overdoses (hospitalised twice) and had constant anxiety day after day. Is there anybody I can see or any help I can seek?

I can't afford a solicitor or legal advice. I've seen those legal places that offer to help for £200 by somehow proving that I owe less than the benefits agency are saying etc.

Prison really would kill me. I can't be in a room with the door shut without having a panic attack and then valium. Would they take any of this into account?

Sorry I've written so much. Just very desperate for some advice to calm me a little!

Thanks

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Hi.cant offer much advice but can offer support. been where you are and am a fellow anxiety sufferer. First of all stop panicking, very few ppl go to prison so put that out of your mind for now. Can u not apply for legal aid? The experts will be along to advise i'm sure, just hang in there xxx

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Hi Steven - if you're still up, try to get some rest and come back later today when there will be a lot more helpful folk around.

 

Absolutely no need to throw good money away - wait and see what advice you get here for free and how best to tackle things.

 

Hang in there - and try not to second guess the worse-case scenario.

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Hello there. Yes, people here will help if they can. How did you hear about CAG out of interest please?

 

Another source of help is the CAB or you may have a local community legal centre [that may not be the right name, I can't quite remember]. I believe they work pro bono.

 

Please answer Leemack's question and hopefully we can take it from there.

 

My best, HB

Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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Another source of help is the CAB or you may have a local community legal centre [that may not be the right name, I can't quite remember]. I believe they work pro bono.

 

You mean the disability information and advice centre (DIAC) ?

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I believe it was considered a full time course although it was only 15 hours a week or less. I did have help in uni due to my mental health problems too. I didn't have to give presentations, was offered a separate room on my own for tests etc.

I'm worried that the benefits agency will say that I shouldn't have claimed ESA at all because I went to university. At the moment I'm in trouble for not declaring being a student but if they say I shouldn't have claimed ESA at all then they might charge me with that too? I fully believe that I was entitled to it as do doctors and CBT therapist.

I feel awful about all of this.

Anyway, a bit long as an answer for what you asked but thanks for helping, it makes me feel a bit less alone.

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I'm a bit fuzzy on the rules re students, but from what I remember you can claim cont based esa and be a full time student, but you can't claim income based esa and be a full time student unless you also receive dla. Also you can't claim JSA and be a full time student (except for a few exceptions). Please someone correct me if I'm wrong.

 

Was your ESA claim contribution based or income based?

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You would have needed to look at if there was any fuding through the university e.g student loans, bursarys grants etc with an increase for partner and any children. This would have then been calculated to a weekly amount and any income based ESA would have been reduced by that figure. The same as a claim for Income Support.

You should have informed the Benefit Centre so that they could determine if you were still eligible to receive ESA or not during your time at Uni.

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I was always told by the benefits agency and by Intraining (the company they use to provide training and such to people on esa) that people people on esa can do work up to 15 hours a week or any voluntary work or study for up to one year while on esa. I think it used to be called something like therapeutic employment or training, not too sure.

Unfortunately I was appealing my esa decision when I started education, thus the fraud case.

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Replying to flumps1976....I did receive student finance for being a parent and having a partner. Again this is where the problem arises I think.

I'm curious though...when they calculate the overpayment, will they make me pay back everything they paid us or will they reduce it considering the amount I would have been paid if I had informed them I was a student from the start? It probably makes a big difference when being prosecuted?

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With regards to the overpayment, it depends very much on whether or not the whole of your benefits have been overpaid. I'm not too sure on the rules for students but you have said in your posts that your course was for 15 hours a week, and then in another that you were told that you could do UP TO 15 hours a week. I know that there is probably just a whole minute more but if your course was 15 hours a week then it is over that which is permitted (if they are the rules ).

 

From your first post it sounds as if there are 3 seperate benefit claims , ESA/JSA and then ESA again. DWP will see this as three false claims to benefit as you will have had the opportunity when making each claim to tell them that you were at University and receiving an income.

 

If your overpayment (including and HB/CT benefit) is over £2,000 it is more than likely that you will be prosecuted. For an overpayment of about £7,000 it is probable that this will stay in Magistrates Court. You need to be aware that it is likely that a Court will view a claim which was false from the start to be more serious than someone who fails to report a change in their circumstances which affects their benefit. If you have made 3 seperate claims and on each occaision failed to mention income from another source it MAY be seen by the Court as a deliberate attempt to obtain benefit.

 

On saying that, it is VERY VERY unlikely that you would be sent to prison, although no-one can say that as it is the decision of the Court on the day.

 

If this does go to Court, you can ask for the duty solicitor to represent you. This will be free. The solicitor will put to the court any mitigating circumstances which should be your anxiety and panic attacks. Before the magistrates pass any sentence I would imagine that they would ask someone from the probation service to see you to complete a pre-sentence report. This is where full details of your health problems will be discussed and their report given to the magistrates. This is not read out in court.

 

The argument may not be the number of hours that you were at University but the amount of income that you received in addition to your benefits.

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I was always told by the benefits agency and by Intraining (the company they use to provide training and such to people on esa) that people people on esa can do work up to 15 hours a week or any voluntary work or study for up to one year while on esa. I think it used to be called something like therapeutic employment or training, not too sure.

Unfortunately I was appealing my esa decision when I started education, thus the fraud case.

 

Yes there is permitted work with an earnings limit, but the same doesn't apply to full time studying. Was your claim income based or contribution based?

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If you claim income based ESA and student finance, any student finance available to you is counted - whether you take it or not. There are some deductions - meaning all finance isn't counted. Tuition fees loan is ignored in full.

 

I'm a bit fuzzy on the rules re students, but from what I remember you can claim cont based esa and be a full time student, but you can't claim income based esa and be a full time student unless you also receive dla. Also you can't claim JSA and be a full time student (except for a few exceptions). Please someone correct me if I'm wrong.

 

It's something like that, yes. If you don't receive dla, there's something about having to wait 28 weeks before claiming? The only exception I know of for JSA, is over the summer, a parent (or a couple responsible for a child) can claim JSA.

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Definately won't be able to get legal aid as the rules on qualification have changed. Going thru' a similar scenario myself whatever figure they arrive at if it's an administrative sanction they will slap on 30% of the total. The countries skint so they gotta get some money from somewhere so why not hit the poor,like they always do all the best my friend. My partners just been hit with a £32000 claim so it's probably off to crown court. for failing to notify a change of cicumstances. she's classed as disabled has suffered from depression for years, she's on morphine based painkillers, has just had an operation for an hiatus hernia, but still they don't care they want their money so it's goodbye to the house and at SIXTY years of age how the hell do you start again? ANSWERS PLEASE.

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Definately won't be able to get legal aid as the rules on qualification have changed. Going thru' a similar scenario myself whatever figure they arrive at if it's an administrative sanction they will slap on 30% of the total. The countries skint so they gotta get some money from somewhere so why not hit the poor,like they always do all the best my friend. My partners just been hit with a £32000 claim so it's probably off to crown court. for failing to notify a change of cicumstances. she's classed as disabled has suffered from depression for years, she's on morphine based painkillers, has just had an operation for an hiatus hernia, but still they don't care they want their money so it's goodbye to the house and at SIXTY years of age how the hell do you start again? ANSWERS PLEASE.

 

Hello there, sorry to hear about your problems. The best start you can make is to start your own thread so that the guys can give you answers specific to your particular circumstances. They may need to ask you for more details.

 

My best, HB

Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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Thank you HB, forgive me but i'm not really into computers how the hell do you start a new thread. sorry to sound a bit simple , but i've only just got used to the abacus. Thanking you in advance

 

Well, I'm only one chapter ahead :), but come out of this thread using the back arrow. Once you're on the title page of this forum, scroll up the page until you see a blue box with white writing on the left hand side. It says something like 'Start New Thread'. Click on that and start typing. We'll do our best after that.

 

My best, HB

Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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Thank you HB, forgive me but i'm not really into computers how the hell do you start a new thread. sorry to sound a bit simple , but i've only just got used to the abacus. Thanking you in advance

 

Back arrow doesn't seem available to do as you asked of me, is there another way to get onto the title page of this forum?

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Back arrow doesn't work? That's new.

 

So scroll up to the top of this page and click on Main Forum [grey box with white writing] on the left hand side. Then scroll down until you find this forum again, in the section where the forum titles are in maroon. Click on Benefits, Tax Credits and Minimum Wage, scroll down not very far and look for the Blue button with white writing, +Start New Thread.

 

Fingers crossed for you.

 

HB

Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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