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Attended IUC - Any advice? - ** APPEAL WON **


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Hi all,

 

My story is a rather messy one, I think so anyway..my solicitor and other professional bodies I've spoken to don't seem to think so though but I'm still scared out my wits and have been feeling a lot more ill than usual since all this started, my depression and paranoia have shot through the roof to the point where I'm not leaving the house for days at a time. I'm seriously on the edge....Anyway I'll start at the beginning...

 

I was called in for an IUC around 5 weeks ago now because they received an allegation that I was living with a partner. I know who made the allegation...It was my ex best friend, we had a bitter fall out, she even warned me she was going to do it but I never thought she would because she knew she would be telling lies.

 

Anyway basically I've allowed a male friend to stay with me for around the past 18 months but have allowed him to use my address for a lot longer than that. Before he moved in he used my address to apply for loans etc, I didn't know there was anything wrong with that. I've been in bad debt for years and he basically used the loans etc to buy furniture for my home. I pay him back money out of my benefits every month which can be seen on my bank statement. No money at all comes from him to me and we have no joint accounts. We lead completely separate lives as far as cooking, laundry, watching tv etc goes. We even have our own sky boxes, tv's and our own PC's...couldn't be more separate if we tried!

 

I'm disabled and currently on IS and CTB...I also get DLA. I own my own home so don't claim HB or anything. I also have mental health and addiction problems and NEED someone to live with me, the thought of living on my own 24/7 scares me to death plus with my disability I need a lot of help doing various things around the house. I can't even change a light bulb.

 

Ok so back to the interview...it was clear they wanted me to admit we were living as a couple but I refused to admit to something I'm not guilty of. I did admit we had a brief "fling" or whatever you want to call it back in the summer for 3 months but our living arrangements still stayed the same. They basically just asked me questions about our living arrangements as I mentioned above and whether or not we socialise together etc. What really shocked me was they had contacted his employer to find out when he started working there and to find out what address he had put down which obviously was mine as he's used mine for years, they had copies of his credit files from a credit reference agency with details of all loans etc he had taken out again which all showed my address. They had print outs of my bank statements for the last year which CLEARLY shows he does not contribute to my household in any way but in fact I pay him money each month towards the loans he took out to but furniture etc for my home. They asked me about various transactions, nothing too serious. I think they had a printout of his facebook account as I recognised his profile picture on a piece of paper they held up...they didn't actually put any of the evidence down in front of me, they only held it up sideways which really bugged me. They also asked if I had one and whether it was active or not. Facebook?? honestly?? They could have just taken me to a computer and looked at mine then and there but no they want me to think they are accessing it privately which is fine I really don't care.

 

At the end of the interview they said they may contact my neighbours to ask their view on whether or not they see us as being a couple or not which I find rediculous as they barely know me/him. I like to lead a private life, my neighbours are not the nicest of people and what if this creates a backlash of absuse against me?? They also said they may ask him to come in and speak to them but he does NOT have to attend. Well the letter came in a couple of weeks ago asking him to phone and make an appointment but he's so furious about his employer being contacted he's refusing to cooperate. He's not bothered about them digging into his financial details as he/we have nothing to hide but he's embarassed and stressed out that his employer may think he's linked to a fraud case. Does anyone know if this will harm my case in any great way given that they did say he was under no obligation to attend?

 

There was also a man from the council present, he didn't ask many questions, I'm guessing because the main part of the interview went on for nearly 2 hours. But I did find it strange that he was the one that asked about my health conditions. Should I have notified the council of someone living in my house even though they were not contributing financially?

 

I feel like I want to put in a complaint about the way I was treated at the IUC...at the end he was very intimidating (my advocate that I took in with me agreed) and asked me repeatedly at the end were we living together as a couple...he was CLEARLY trying to get me to admit guilt. I've read the legislation on IUC's and this is against the rules. He also said further investigations would need to be done because there was a few contradictions in the answers I had given. Now when I first went in I offered to let them see the bottles and leaflets of the medication I was on which clearly states side effects of memory problems and mental confusion and they COMPLETELY disregarded this, didn't even look at them or barely acknowledge my advocate telling them.

 

So it ended with them telling me they would be conduction further investigations under the RIPA Act.

 

Sorry if this story seems all jumbled up, my head is all over the place at the moment. I'm basically not denying he lives here or has used my address for however many years but I am disputing the fact that they think we are a couple and they think he has been living here a lot longer than he actually has been. I can see how it looks on paper because of the credit stuff but SURELY they cannot charge me with fraud based on this evidence alone. Unfortunately he has no proof of a previous address because he stayed with various friends/family just like he is with me at present.

 

By the way...I used to work for DWP and process claims and we were told that people using other peoples addresses for claims etc was fine so I don't see how that's any different!! That's the main reason I didn't think I was doing anything wrong.

 

Thanks for reading, any help/advice would be very appreciated.

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Hi LifeIsAMess, and welcome to CAG!

 

Your ex-friend is nasty, isn't she?

 

I imagine their investigations under the RIPA Act mean talking to your neighbours and trying to get your friend co-operate.

 

I assume as he was living with you that you weren't claiming the single person's discount when you applied for the CTB?

 

I'm going to try and get some people with rather more knowledge than I have to come and help on your thread.

 

DD

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The RIPA Act doesn't apply in your case, it's application to the courts to ask permission to investigate you covertly, I cant see how they can watch you undercover when you already know you're being investigated. You've done the right thing by not admitting what they so desperately wanted you to!

This leads me to believe that their case against you is weak, that's why they are asking your lodger to come in for an interview. He doesn't have to go, but I've a feeling if he goes and simply reiterates what you've said, it could help you.

He must state he cooks his own food, stores it separately, you dont socialise as a couple, your friends don't see you as a couple and you dont present yourself as a couple.

Having all your bills in your name and bank statements to show you live independent financial lives is your strongest evidence.

Are you claiming single persons CT discount? that might be why the guy from the council was there.

 

The might decide on the balance of probabilities that you're a couple if your lodger decides not to attend an interview so I would like to see him go and put it to them. ONLY if he's a strong character and will not bend to their accusatory rubbish x

Good luck and stick to your guns

scotgal 

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Hi LifeIsAMess, and welcome to CAG!

 

Your ex-friend is nasty, isn't she?

 

I imagine their investigations under the RIPA Act mean talking to your neighbours and trying to get your friend co-operate.

 

I assume as he was living with you that you weren't claiming the single person's discount when you applied for the CTB?

 

I'm going to try and get some people with rather more knowledge than I have to come and help on your thread.

 

DD

 

Hi Daniella, I don't think they know it was my ex friend who made the allegation, I just know it was her because she told me she was going to do it and it ties in with when we fell out and when they said the allegation was made..ie early last year. I can't believe it's taken them all this time to get round to the IUC.

 

He wasn't living here at all when I claimed so I was claiming full CTB as I was claiming IS and under my solicitors instructions I've not to change that until I hear back from them. I know that's why the guy from the council was there because I didn't notify them that someone had moved in but I didn't know I had to because he doesn't contribute. I know I've made a right mess of things but I honestly didn't think I was doing anything wrong.

 

You could be right about the RIPA act though I really hope they don't talk to my neighbours, not because I've anything to hide but like I said above they are not the nicest of people and suffering with mental health issues already is just going to make things worse. I guess I could always sell up and move if it comes to it :sad:

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The RIPA Act doesn't apply in your case, it's application to the courts to ask permission to investigate you covertly, I cant see how they can watch you undercover when you already know you're being investigated. You've done the right thing by not admitting what they so desperately wanted you to!

This leads me to believe that their case against you is weak, that's why they are asking your lodger to come in for an interview. He doesn't have to go, but I've a feeling if he goes and simply reiterates what you've said, it could help you.

He must state he cooks his own food, stores it separately, you dont socialise as a couple, your friends don't see you as a couple and you dont present yourself as a couple.

Having all your bills in your name and bank statements to show you live independent financial lives is your strongest evidence.

Are you claiming single persons CT discount? that might be why the guy from the council was there.

 

The might decide on the balance of probabilities that you're a couple if your lodger decides not to attend an interview so I would like to see him go and put it to them. ONLY if he's a strong character and will not bend to their accusatory rubbish x

Good luck and stick to your guns

 

Thanks scotgal...part of me thinks that may have just been a scare tactic...I think he said that after the tape had been switched off too though due to memory problems I can't be sure. I'm going to see if I can request a copy of the tape.

I'm claiming full CTB which I'm still unsure whether I should or shouldn't be. He only spoke to me for 2 minutes at most and my solicitor is unsure also. Bit of a strange situation.

He has already decided he's not going to attend. I wanted him to AT LEAST phone but he's written a letter stating why he's not attending, basically saying he's annoyed they contacted his employer without his permission causing him undue stress at work and due to the fact they are able to get any information they want he sees no reason to take time off work to attend. He can be a strong character but unfortunately with a bad temper and I know if they spoke to him like they did to me he would lose his cool.

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So they lived with you rent free?!?

 

Nope, I don't need not want any money from him. I'm just extremely grateful for having someone live with me. That might sound odd but being disabled with mental health issues I don't like being in the house alone overnight. It gives me peace of mind to know that there is someone else around. My mortgage is small. He basically has furnished my home for me due to my bad credit. He does jobs around the house which I can't do due to my disabilities, to me that is worth more than any monetary value.

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Daniella, I've been claiming since 2007 after DWP dismissed me for taking too much time off work for being ill. I've been claiming IS and CTB since then. My friend moved in permanently around 18 months ago. It's always been full CTB, hope this helps clear up that side of things.

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Nope, I don't need not want any money from him.

 

But you're on I/S. A means tested benefit that is paid due to low income!

As an ex claims processor surely you can see how this looks?

 

He works, lives with you rent free, you have numerous financial links & you didn't think I/S might need to know about it?

CTB as well, which explains the Council Investigator been there.

Very naïve to say the least.

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But you're on I/S. A means tested benefit that is paid due to low income!

As an ex claims processor surely you can see how this looks?

 

He works, lives with you rent free, you have numerous financial links & you didn't think I/S might need to know about it?

CTB as well, which explains the Council Investigator been there.

Very naïve to say the least.

 

Sorry what are the numerous financial links? Also why should a FRIEND be financially responsible for my day to day living?

 

I get now why the council man will have been there, ex claims processor yes but actually knew nothing about the CTB/HB side of things and really I'm not trying to make excuses for myself but my health and deteriorated dramatically since I was dismissed and struggling with debt and addiction problems well I just didn't think. But that aside...I'm still not guilty of what they are accusing me of...we are not a couple.

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Tbh, they might be thinking that he must be your partner if he is not contributing to the costs of utilities he is using. Also the financial links with the sky won't help, plus not declaring him there for council tax. I know someone who failed at Tribunal due to financial links with someone so that is strong evidence they use in court. I'm surprised about you not being able to get sky, I've not heard of a single bankrupt person not being able to get it yet. I'm not at all saying you are together or are a couple, but they do have a fair bit of evidence that suggests you could be in their and the courts view.

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not sure why you did not notify the DWP or LA that you were in a relationship last summer for 3 months, that probably does not look good

 

also, if you were receiving CTB and 25% discount on your Council Tax, you would have been under a duty to notify the Council as you had another adult living in the property,

 

it does not make any difference whether he was a partner or just a friend, both would have affected your CTB or 25% discount

If you have found my post useful, please click on the star at the bottom of my post and add some reputation points.

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Hi LifeIsAMess,

 

I do understand why you don't want to be on your own in the house.

 

One problem really is going to be the CTB, but you know that already.

 

Your solicitor is basically telling you to sit tight and not start to change anything, and I agree with him, as that would make matters look worse.

 

It would have been helpful if your friend had run his letter past your solicitor first. I suppose he has already sent it?

Edited by Desperate Daniella
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OP, either you were living together and failed to declare it in which case most benefits you have received will be overpaid (except the DLA) or you failed to declare the non dependent living with you in which case 25% of your CTb is overpaid plus whatever should have been deducted from your IS throughout that time for you having a non dependent living there. Unfortunately either way, an offence has been commited. You are saying it is the latter, and therefore you need to find out how much the overpayment is and work out how it can be paid back. Your MH problems will go in your favour as they often do not proceed to court if you admit guilt and allow repayments over long periods of time however large the overpayment is. My friend owed £34,000 but was not taken to court due to her MH issues. She took her key worker with her to the IUC, do you have similar support from CMHT/CTT? That would really help.

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Tbh, they might be thinking that he must be your partner if he is not contributing to the costs of utilities he is using. Also the financial links with the sky won't help, plus not declaring him there for council tax. I know someone who failed at Tribunal due to financial links with someone so that is strong evidence they use in court. I'm surprised about you not being able to get sky, I've not heard of a single bankrupt person not being able to get it yet. I'm not at all saying you are together or are a couple, but they do have a fair bit of evidence that suggests you could be in their and the courts view.

 

I get that, he works long hours so doesn't use a lot of utilities but of course some. The fact is I didn't set out to knowingly commit fraud, it was a stupid mistake and I realise that now with regards to the CTB.

 

As for Sky, I don't know, maybe they do random credit checks.

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not sure why you did not notify the DWP or LA that you were in a relationship last summer for 3 months, that probably does not look good

 

also, if you were receiving CTB and 25% discount on your Council Tax, you would have been under a duty to notify the Council as you had another adult living in the property,

 

it does not make any difference whether he was a partner or just a friend, both would have affected your CTB or 25% discount

 

I thought about that when I admitted it at the interview but it was VERY casual and under DWP's LT legislation nothing changed.

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If you are on DLA care you could tell the council he is a friend living at your house, not a partner, and that you do not charge him any rent nor does he pay any. They would have to class him as a non-dependant but if you are on DLA there would be no non-dep deduction so it would not affect the CTB claim before 31/3/2013. It might from 1/4/2013 depending on your council's LCTS scheme but I doubt it.

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Hi LifeIsAMess,

 

I do understand why you don't want to be on your own in the house.

 

One problem really is going to be the CTB, but you know that already.

 

Your solicitor is basically telling you to sit tight and not start to change anything, and I agree with him, as that would make matters look worse.

 

It would have been helpful if your friend had run his letter past your solicitor first. I suppose he has already sent it?

 

I still have the letter, I said I would post it for him as he leaves the house at 6.30am and doesn't return until 7pm. I've not been out for 3 days now so I still have it here. I'm seeing my solicitor on Tuesday so I may as well open it up and let him look over it before sending it off.

 

You've been lovely and really helpful, thanks Daniella appreciate it :)

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Yes.

So what I was aiming towards was that there is either a LT offence taking place or an undeclared income in the house hold.

 

Lifeisamess can't have it both ways.

 

In my eyes neither is taking place...DWP LT rules are VERY specific and he does not give me any income.

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OP, either you were living together and failed to declare it in which case most benefits you have received will be overpaid (except the DLA) or you failed to declare the non dependent living with you in which case 25% of your CTb is overpaid plus whatever should have been deducted from your IS throughout that time for you having a non dependent living there. Unfortunately either way, an offence has been commited. You are saying it is the latter, and therefore you need to find out how much the overpayment is and work out how it can be paid back. Your MH problems will go in your favour as they often do not proceed to court if you admit guilt and allow repayments over long periods of time however large the overpayment is. My friend owed £34,000 but was not taken to court due to her MH issues. She took her key worker with her to the IUC, do you have similar support from CMHT/CTT? That would really help.

 

Yes I'm beginning to see from everyone's advice and knowledge that the CTB is the major problem. I took an advocate (appropriate adult) with me to my IUC, they will only attend with you if you have mental health issues. My key worker etc is for addiction issues but it was psychiatry who referred me to them. I'm willing to pay back what I owe, I'm sorry it happened, I was stupid but I still won't let them try and guilt me into admitting to living as a couple. If that means going to court then so be it I guess. Just seems insane to me to plead guilty when not guilty.

 

Please all bear in mind my IUC was for a LT offence not CTB fraud even though through discussing it appears this is the main problem.

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If you are on DLA care you could tell the council he is a friend living at your house, not a partner, and that you do not charge him any rent nor does he pay any. They would have to class him as a non-dependant but if you are on DLA there would be no non-dep deduction so it would not affect the CTB claim before 31/3/2013. It might from 1/4/2013 depending on your council's LCTS scheme but I doubt it.

 

I don't 100% understand what you mean. I am on DLA care and I did tell them in the interview I need someone living with me. I'm wondering if that's why the council man didn't ask any questions except for regarding my DLA and health conditions.

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I still have the letter, I said I would post it for him as he leaves the house at 6.30am and doesn't return until 7pm. I've not been out for 3 days now so I still have it here. I'm seeing my solicitor on Tuesday so I may as well open it up and let him look over it before sending it off.

 

You've been lovely and really helpful, thanks Daniella appreciate it :)

 

I do think it would be best if your solicitor checked the letter so show him on Tuesday.

 

I'm glad you think I've been helpful.

 

I love your CAG name by the way. It sums up the feelings of many of us here. :-)

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