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Charged with failure to promptly notify the DWP in prescribed manner of change of circumstances

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Hi, please bear with me I am new to this forum. I hope I am posting in the correct place. I've been charged with "failure to promptly notify the DWP in the prescribed manner of a change of circumstances which you knew would affect your entitlement to Carer's Allowance, namely that you were earning in excess of theh permitte amount Contrary to section 112(1A) and (2) of the Social Security Administration Act 1992 (SS92042).

 

This Charge letter came to me in early Jan 2013. I had attended an Interview Under Caution in February 2012, after I had received a letter from the DWP to attend. So, almost a year in between.

 

Long story short, in March of 2009 my disabled daughter had surgery that required me to take unpaid Parental Leave to be in hospital with her (3 weeks) and care for her afterward (recovery, pain management, learn to walk again, loads of physio). I applied for Carer's Allowance to help out for the few months with full intention of going back to work, and informing DWP.

 

On my application form, in the back, I explicitly state in my own handwriting that "I do not yet know how long I will need to care for {daughter's name} at home, and I will contact the DWP Carer's Allowance to discontinue when I go back to work, as I have done in the past." [the past referring to an instance in 2007 when I returned to work after receiving CA and informed the DWP by letter wiithout incident].

 

Also, on my letter to DWP I state that "she will be at home under my care for a period of 2-3 months...." and asking for CA to be reinstated.

 

On April 6, 2009 I started a new job (since my old one had asked me if I could extend my Parental Leave because the company was struggling). On that very same day I popped into the post a letter to DWP saying simply that my circumstances had changed and to please discontinue my CA.

 

No reply came from the DWP, and I hadn't expected one since I never got one when I cancelled the first time in 2007. So, I never questioned it and carried on with my life.

 

Then in Jan/Feb 2012 I receive a letter out of the blue from the DWP about possible benefits fraud and the Interview Under Caution.

 

Unbeknownst to me, I had been receiving CA all that time! The Interviewers stared at me in disbelief, saying how could I not realise about the payments. I explained that my husband and I both make a very good wage, when working our full time jobs, and that we don't live or rely on benefits in any way. So the small amout of £50 coming into the bank account was not noticed. Furthermore, we only do online banking. We do not receive monthly statements, nor do we receive notification if a payment is received. The online statements are full of outgoings and someone would have to scroll back many pages to come to an 'incoming' payment. Something which I just simply never did. There was never any need to.

 

Now, when the overpayments allegedly started, I was still caring for my post-op daughter, but had also started a new full time job. It was a full-on period of time for me, constantly on the go. The last thing I was doing was checking the bank account. I didn't need to. My husband and I both receive paper payslips when we get paid, therefore I don't need to check the account. Everything else is 'outgoing' and as we live within our means, there simply wasn't any reason to keep an eye on the statements.

 

2009 was full of teaching my daughter how to walk again, loads of physio, and managing my 3 children and full time job. I am the 'family business manager' for our family, so I am the one applying for things like Carer's Allowance and also doing the banking, etc. in addition to caring for our children. I'm a busy lady but I like it that way!

 

By end of 2009 it was clear my daughters situation was not improving. In early 2010 I was already researching another surgical operation and in the spring of 2010 she was accepted for spinal surgery in America (because the surgery was not offered in UK or Europe at the time). Therefore, 2010 was full of this activity.....and not checking the bank statements.

 

So, basically, (and I really am trying to keep this short) approx. 3 years went by and we were receiving CA without realising it. The Interviewers seem to think it impossible that we would have missed this. Perhaps I confused the CA payments with the higher rate Care component of DLA (disability living allowance) that my daughter had been awarded -- we literally got the letter informing of this that DAY AFTER the same date that DWP is accusing me of beginning to receive overpayment of CA. My hindsight is definitely not 20/20, but if I ever questioned the weekly payments (and I don't know that I did) perhaps I thought it was the DLA??? I'll never know.

 

Anyway, I want to plead Not Guilty as I don't feel I've done anything wrong. BTW, after the IUC I received an Overpayment Letter of £7,900 in May 2012. I repaid this IN FULL a week later. This information has not been acknowledged by the DWP nor was it included in the very large packet of 'evidence' (payslips, transcript of my interview, etc) against me to substatiate the Charge.

 

I'm looking for opinions, advice, etc as I have never broken the law, not even a speeding ticket, and am Really Scared about this. Thanks in advance for your help.

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It's late and you may not elicit much in the way of responses before tomorrow. I can't advise but am sure people will in the not too distant future.

I did read your post with interest. Have to admit I was thinking 'yeah, yeah, yeah, didn't notice for years? Hmmmm'. But, in a funny way, it began to make sense especially with DLA payments which could easily have clouded the issue. You've paid it back in full which, you'd hope, goes some way in saying a) we didn't need it and b) it was an oversight.

Either way, welcome and good luck.

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I would advise you to contact the Citizens Advice Bureau first thing in the morning and make an appointment to see an adviser. There will be a specialist benefits adviser you are able to see, but anyone initially will do.

The benefits sections are renowned for using sledgehammers to crack the smallest of issues and there are strict laws and policy guidelines on what they can do. The CAB will have this immediately to hand.

This is important, it won't wait until Thursday.

All the best.

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As a minimum, the DWP would have issued letters to you at the start of 2010 and 2011 advising you of the uprating of the rates of Carers Allowance.

 

Do you remember receiving these letters?

 

Do you recall what you did with them?


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This is one of those cases where I'd suggest seeking the advice of a lawyer experienced in benefit issues. You apparently did inform the DWP of your change of circumstances and state that you no longer wished to claim CA, and repaying the civil overpayment in full surely counts in your favour. Also, fraud requires intent, and the idea of intent may well be negated by the fact of your sending that letter.

 

But still, it would also seem that criminal proceedings have been commenced. Again - seek legal advice. The CAB may be a decent starting point, but if it were me, I'd want a lawyer.


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I would agree with Antone that an experienced solicitor who specialises in benefits cases would be a more sensible option than CAB.

 

Assuming that case does progress to court, the outcome will be based uponwhether the Magistrate/Judge/Jury believe you.

 

Personally, I find it entirely credible that: -

 

  • you did post letter at time
  • the DWP did not receive letter
  • you did not check bank accounts
  • you did not realise you were receiving payments

I think my only concern would be what happened with uprating letters or other correspondence the DWP might have sent you.


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Hi Everyone,

 

No I did not receive any letters from the DWP -- updates or anything. I'm really worried about all of this. What are my chances of being found actually innocent? It really feels like a lose/lose situation even though I feel I did everything right.

 

I have contacted two solicitors so far, but they both want money before they will talk about my situation, and they are also extremely difficult to get ahold of -- always busy, etc. and I am at work all day so it's hard to find a time to get on the phone with them.

 

Any information anyone can give me will be really helpful, thanks.

 

ReallyScared

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Hi Everyone,

 

No I did not receive any letters from the DWP -- updates or anything. I'm really worried about all of this. What are my chances of being found actually innocent? It really feels like a lose/lose situation even though I feel I did everything right.

 

I have contacted two solicitors so far, but they both want money before they will talk about my situation, and they are also extremely difficult to get ahold of -- always busy, etc. and I am at work all day so it's hard to find a time to get on the phone with them.

 

Any information anyone can give me will be really helpful, thanks.

 

ReallyScared

 

Then find a solicitor who can find the time to talk with you- there's plenty of them out there.

You need urgent help and advice.

Members have advised as they can on here - surely you need to do the rest.

 

Good Luck.

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Did you ever receive a letter from DWP stating that they've received your letter regarding your change in circumstances?

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Hi, no I never receied any acknowledgement. But then, when I cancelled CA in 2007 I never heard back then either. The payments just stopped.

 

I've repayed ALL the overpayment in FULL literally a week after receiving the Overpayment Letter. This has not been acknowledged either. And, it does not appear to be part of the 'packet of evidence' they have against me.

 

I have now done some research and found out that "2.2 billion of overpayments were made in 2009-10 as a result of administrative errors by its staff."

 

And that Royal Mail loses 12.4 million letters each year.

 

Yet I am facing a criminal conviction!!!! I can barely get my head around this.

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I noticed you say DWP haven't acknowledged your payment of +£7k in May 2012...maybe a quick call to them to confirm the payment and requesting a receipt is the first stop? They did cash your cheque I take it? (assuming you paid by cheque of course)


Lillibelle

 

I only know what I know cos I know it,I only give advice,I'm not legally trained nor do I pretend to be.

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Hi, I paid by bank transfer, directly to the DWP account and sort numbers that had been provided. My bank statement shows that the funds came out. But yes I agree I should investigate whether or not they are aware. Still, I don't think this will stop any court proceedings against me. It's like being on a runaway train that I can't stop. At the DWP the right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing!!

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Hi, I paid by bank transfer, directly to the DWP account and sort numbers that had been provided. My bank statement shows that the funds came out. But yes I agree I should investigate whether or not they are aware. Still, I don't think this will stop any court proceedings against me. It's like being on a runaway train that I can't stop. At the DWP the right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing!!

 

I am sure a legal person could sort this for you.

Costly I know but better than all the stress it is causing you.

You could go round and round in circles with them getting nowhere fast.

At the moment it is their word against yours.

 

There does not seem to be any logic to how they work - so what chance of a simple solution.

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Ok I have asked for a receipt now. If anyone else has anything, please let me know. Do 'innocents' like me ever actually prevail in these cases???

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I can't see why they are insisting on prosecuting you when you don't owe them anything.I was kinda hoping if you rang them and they concurred (which they have) you paid up in full there would be no case to answer,,shows my naivety huh?


Lillibelle

 

I only know what I know cos I know it,I only give advice,I'm not legally trained nor do I pretend to be.

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Hi, I paid by bank transfer, directly to the DWP account and sort numbers that had been provided. My bank statement shows that the funds came out. But yes I agree I should investigate whether or not they are aware. Still, I don't think this will stop any court proceedings against me. It's like being on a runaway train that I can't stop. At the DWP the right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing!!

 

When did you notice the funds had come out?

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Hi, I didn't notice, that's the main problem. I was so busy with my daughter's 2009 and 2010 major surgeries that I wasn't checking the bank account. I had no idea -- no sniff of anything until I received an Interview Under Caution letter in early 2012. Then of course I went back and checked my accounts to find out why. And of course only then noticed that the CA payments were there.

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Oh, sorry I guess I didn't answer correctly -- when I paid the DWP the Overpayment, the funds come out of my account IMMEDIATELY. I've now requested a receipt from them. And I just got a letter from DWP today saying that they received the repayment in May 2012.

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well,personally if they know theyve received the overpayment back,youve admitted kinda its been a mistake,what would they have to gain in prosecuting you as well?,there must be some person in an office that will sit down and think that?,in a normal world........

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Exactly,citizenkain....I can't see why they would bother,,,Maybe ring them when you have time to stay on the phone and go as far up the chain as you can,i can't help thinking (hoping) it's a clerical cockup on their part (Heaven Forbid!!) and if you get no joy then grab a solicitor.

Hope this gets sorted for you.xx


Lillibelle

 

I only know what I know cos I know it,I only give advice,I'm not legally trained nor do I pretend to be.

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Paying the overpayment back straight away changes nothing I'm afraid, although it can sound a lot better in court should the case get that far.

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Hi All, I have decided to write a letter to the person who authorised the charge, explaining that he/she had neglected to include in their Fact sheet and Exhibit list any proof that I had paid (in full) the Overpayment within a week of the DWP letter. I am urging them not to prosecute, saying that I will be pleading Not Guilty and that I have proof of administrative failings and source for confusion. I have a meeting with a Solicitor on Monday. Does anybody else have any sound advice for me??

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