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Help & advice needed - accused of council tax benefit fraud - **RESOLVED**


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Hi, I really need some help and advice.

 

I have received a letter from my local council inviting me to attend an interview under caution. They are stating that benefits have been overpaid and that I failed to declare my husband's earnings.

 

However, my husband returned to work last September/October and all overpayments were repaid.

 

I am rather concerned to receive this type of request some 4 or 5 months later.

 

What are my rights and how do I deal with formal interview - which is due to take place on 23 February.

 

Any advice or information would be greatly appreciated.

 

Many thanks

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I'd get some advice from CAB and take someone with you for support. You should have letters/bills showing that you have been paying council tax from the date your dh started work again so just take those along and show them along with the proof you have paid. All you need to prove is that you told them your dh was in work and when they sent you the bills and said how much you owed due to overpayment, then you paid. Should be no problem.

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thank you so much, but am having problems locating all my paperwork - I have the overpayment letter and the receipt of the payment made. Unfortunately, I was suffering from depression at the time - which I finally sought treatment for in December. I am really afraid that I may have missed something important as we were trying to repay morgage & debt arrears from when my husband was unexpectedly laid off work last February.

 

On the advice of CCCS and other debt management advisors, we sought Council Tax Benefit and this was granted in May. My hubby works away and returned to his employers on a voluntary basis in August, but only received expenses and day-to-day living costs, but this was on a month-by-month basis and has been ever since. He received a wage at the end of September and got a loyalty bonus in October - with which we were able to pay off some of our debt.

 

We are still in debt and have come to a repayment agreement with all of our debtors, so to seek and pay for legal advice would be out of the question. Our local CAB is currently under threat and I am really scared that I have missed something or forgotten to inform the council immediately.

 

Needless to say, am completely stressed out, pacing the floor, not sleeping/eating and my medications aren't even touching me. I feel sick at being IUC and that my name (a unique one) will be splashed all over our local press and I will be branded a common criminal.

 

All the hardwork and counselling received over these last few weeks in putting me back on track have just gone out of the window and I'm left feeling a utter wreck

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I didn't even think to let them know when I got a work bonus when I was on housing benefit, I didn't even let them know when I did over time I was that nieve. I remember the times I was off sick & didn't get paid & just casually thought that would even it out. Never realised they were such sticklers!

I don't know what the amount of yours was, but I have a feeling my bonus of 150 quid is a lot less than yours! Basically they would quite liked to have had 65p in the pound of that off you. I think that's right with CTB, it was with housing benefit anyway. So that's the over payment you're looking at. Certainly not the crime of century though so don't let them bully you.

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I have never claimed these type of benefits before - apart from child benefit and DLA for my autistic child. I just can't get my head around this. I have looked at both bills and apart from 8p underpayment difference, I cannot see where I have gone wrong. Surely they wouldn't be that pedantic over 8p?

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You need to declare every single income to them. I applied to a charity for the cost of labour of a decorator to decorate my house (I paid for all materials myself) and even though the charity paid the decorator directly so the money never came to me I declared this fact to my LA and the DWP. My LA were fine about it but the DWP had to meet to decide whether the decorator provision was income. Meanwhile I was having kittens worrying how I would live if the equivalent money was going to be deducted from my ESA! Fortunately they decided it was ok but it made me realise people do receive income they don't think is income! And perhaps income is income even if it's just services that would have cost you money?! I would always declare everything and have done to date, you can never be too careful.

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thank you for al your comments - I really thought that I had declared everyhing - obviously not otherwise I would not have been called for IUC. Is there any advice or information that I should take to the IUC with me? What are my rights and what should I ask?

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thank you for al your comments - I really thought that I had declared everyhing - obviously not otherwise I would not have been called for IUC. Is there any advice or information that I should take to the IUC with me? What are my rights and what should I ask?

 

Your rights are found in here..

http://www.advicenow.org.uk/advicenow-guides/problems-with-benefits/how-to-handle-an-interview-under-caution/

 

I would let them do the talking & just answer what they ask. You didn't think to let them know about the bonus. It's only fraud when someone intended to do it? What sort of over payment are you looking at if you don't mind me asking? As the amount can usually have a bearing on the future outcome.

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good news - I think!! Turns out that when the overpayment was paid off in October, I didn't inform them of our change of circumstances and a further contribution was paid by them. Explained that we had just presumed because we had settled their bill that it would cancel out any further benefits.

Apologised for oversight and she will take it back and recommend that it is just repaid with their 30% interest as it's not worth their while pursuing it through the court. and they will contact me with their decision in the next week or so

 

Oh the amount????? ............................................. £3.60p !!!!

 

thank you to Jadeybags and Feelingsad for making me feel not quite so alone - your support, advice and comments have helped me more than you will ever know xxxxx

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the 30% interest is an administrative penalty

 

is this being applied to the full overpayment notified in October 2011?

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honestly, i have never known any LA to offer an AdPen on £3.60, as one of the conditions for an AdPen is that the case has to be serious enough that if claimant declines AdPen, the Local Authority will prosecute.

 

No Local Authority would prosecute for £3.60 - I suspect it is more likely that the AdPen would apply to the overpayment created in October 2011

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Honeybee - thank you for your comments - thought I was going to pass out at the start of the interview, felt as if I'd robbed a bank - have NEVER been through anything like that before and never want to again. I was on my own as I couldn't get legal advice beforehand. I was not made aware of how much I owed, just a notice saying that I hadn't declared my husband's earnings to them.

Because of the all the disruption to our lives last year and then being diagnosed with stress and depression, I really couldn't remember what I had or hadn't read/received or paid. Am just glad that we kept all our receipts. But would advise anyone to read all their correspondence in future - a bill is NOT the same as a benefit notification. Do NOT assume that because a bill is settled that benefits will cease.

If they can put me through all this for the sake of £3.60p, goodness knows what would have happened if it had been any more. I am just thankful that their decision, although not final or formal as yet, will not be court action nor criminal proceedings

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I think that's abysmal putting you through that. Why didn't they just let you know you owed £3.60 so you could pay it?!! It must have cost them a three figure sum putting together that IUC what a waste of tax payers money not to mention unecessary stress for you. However, I am very pleased to see the word resolved in the thread title! Sleep well tonight!

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honestly, i have never known any LA to offer an AdPen on £3.60, as one of the conditions for an AdPen is that the case has to be serious enough that if claimant declines AdPen, the Local Authority will prosecute.

 

No Local Authority would prosecute for £3.60 - I suspect it is more likely that the AdPen would apply to the overpayment created in October 2011

 

 

Great so I have to find quite a bit more extra money then?? Like I said, I will wait and see what their letter says first, before getting too excited about anything - until I have it in writing, am not going to take anything for granted!!

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please let us know final AdPen figure once you get it

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