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Letter from Housing Benefit to attend an interview under caution - please help


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Hi - I'd be really grateful for some advice.

 

On Saturday I received a letter from the council to attend an IUC on 13th May regarding allegations of a fraudulent benefit claim.

 

I'm a single mum in a rented house. I work full time, low wage, receive HB and CTR, and also WTC and CTC.

 

I am married, but legally separated from Sept 2011 and began divorce proceedings in April 2012. I have a marital home (no equity) and a mortgage, my husband lived in that and pays the mortgage as I moved out when it became too difficult to live with him.

 

I have a boyfriend who I met in July 2012. He stays over often, but lives with his Auntie. He is also separated and mid-divorce. He has a marital home and pays a mortgage and his wife and child live there. He moved out a couple of years ago, lives with his auntie, pays her food money etc, and also tops up her CT as she lost the 25% single occupancy discount when he moved in. All his mail etc goes to his home at his auntie's. We have no joint financial dealings at all, he just stays over and goes, my bills are my own, in my name and paid by me. He's great and we spend a lot of time together, but neither of us want to move in together, when financially and emotionally we are both in a big enough mess already with divorces, mortgages etc.

 

My husband is being very difficult, won't sign divorce papers or disclose info about his pension etc. I am divorcing him for unreasonable behaviour. Last week his solicitor told mine that he wants to divorce me for adultery even though I didn't meet my boyfriend until after we split up. He has also accused me, in a solicitors letter, of living with my boyfriend. He is angry at my new relationship and causing trouble whenever he can.

 

When I received this IUC letter my immediate thought was that my husband has tried to report me for fraud, saying that me boyfriend lives here or something. However, having googled and panicked all weekend, I now have another thought.

 

WTC messed up my income and were underpaying me. When I applied for HB I submitted evidence, a copy of the WTC letter etc. WTC then rectified their mistake and my WTC went up to pay me back for the underpayment, some of which pre-dated my HB claim. I then got a letter from HB in Feb 2013 saying that there had been an overpayment of just over £1000 because of this. I appealed saying that firstly I gave them my WTC letter and everything correctly when I applied and WTCs constant mistakes are not my fault, and secondly that the Feb letter said that WTC had notified them of the change in Sept 2012, so I asked why they had taken 6 months to deal with it, letting an overpayment accrue in the meantime. All I have had since are a series of confusing award letters that are 20+ pages long from which I gather that they are recovering the HB part (£700) of the O/P from my benefit. The CT O/P of £300 was taken my DD from my bank at the time.

 

Having googled all weekend trying to work out what's going on, thinking it must be an accusation by my husband, I have now established that HB might be considering the above O/P as fraudulent on the basis that I didn't provide info of my WTC increase?? It wasn't deliberate, they knew I got WTC, and WTC told them of the change. I'm self-employed so understanding how it's all worked out is a nightmare. The WTC and HB letters are dozens of pages long and computer generated so that there's no proper letter of explanation, you just have to interpret the amounts as best you can! I thought WTC were repaying me money from before my HB claim, it's so complicated.

 

All I can think to do is ring the CAB... I have now been on hold for 56 mins! Any advice would be gratefully received, I'm worried sick. Thanks

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I would go to the CAB, I've just been there for an issue and was seen within 5 minutes of it opening. But from what you say, I can't see that you can be seen as living together at all. It's very difficult to prove adultery, you almost need photos or admittance so if you deny it, it will cost your stbx a lot of money. Let him pay! He obviously has not moved on yet emotionally.

 

Generally it is recommended you take someone with you to an IUC, if not a legal advisor, a trusted friend. Hopefully you will feel a lot better after the IUC when you've stopped imagining scenarios and bigging it up to more than it was. I suspect your stbx has made an allegation but hopefully that will be easily cleared up.

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Thanks for your reply. I'm working at the moment so am struggling to get hold of CAB. However I have rung the fraud officer who sent the letter and asked what it's about. He wouldn't discuss it, but did offer to move my appointment to tomorrow morning so at least I don't have to cry over it for the next fortnight!

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  • 2 weeks later...

id go straight to a solicitor . Anything you say during a IUC will be used against you unfortunately . They only usually pull you in for a IUC if they have evidence . So if your claiing hB/CTB they will be looking into the fact for example your ex pays the mortgage & things like that . Chances are they have copies of all your utility bills , bank statements , insurance documents , with me they even approached my childs school asking who was on my emergency contact list ! Goodluck x

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Thanks for your reply. They moved it forward. It was awful, worse than I thought, I should have taken a solicitor. They didn't produce any evidence other than my facebook profile photo of me and my boyfriend which was available to anyone online (it's not any more though!) like having a photo of you together means you're leaving together?! My soon-to-be-ex-husband pays the mortgage on my marital home which he lives in alone. My boyfriend pays his own mortgage on his own house and council tax too. I rent, alone, and claim HB etc. They would have been welcome to my bills and bank statements as nobody pays anything for me, or gives me any money, they would have found nothing because it just hasn't happened. They produced no evidence just said that they knew that my bf lived with me. I said he doesn't. They said yes he does. They didn't even know his surname. They said his car was outside every night and named the wrong make and colour of car, but wouldn't let me speak to tell them that. They said he doesn't pay council tax elsewhere though I can prove that he does. Then they turned the tape off and said I was a very naughty girl (I'm 40!) and that my bf can stay over 1 night a week and his car mustn't be there at any other time. I know that they can't legally do that, I spoke to CAB, but they did it anyway. They asked me for my bfs phone number to speak to him about supposedly not paying council tax elsewhere, even though he does, but when they rang him they never mentioned it, just told him to stop being naughty and said even 1 night a week might be deemed too much. I wrote in the next day to tell them I didn't want to claim anymore because I'm not going through anything like that again and the fraud officer rang me up when he got my letter and denied saying 1 night a week, maintained that my bf doesn't pay council tax etc. basically it was intimidating, bullying and horrible. No evidence was presented, I just got a grilling on tape, and a patronising warning off tape. I rang WTC straight away and told them everything and they said I was doing nothing wrong and to continue with my single persons claim?!?!

Can't believe they went to your school!! My bf is an emergency contact at mine actually, but so is another male friend and my best female friend and I'm not living with them either!!

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that sounds incrediblly unproffessional and damn right silly ! Allover a photo ? Did you get some legal advice? i had two IUC followed by a court summons so id defo just let a solicitor know where your at with it xx

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oh and for the record wether you have someone staying 1 night or 7 nights is completely irrelevant there is no limit - its if that person is contributing financially and if you are living together as a couple ( ie food shoppin together ,doing his washing etc )

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I discussed it with my divorce solicitor. It's not her area and she would have recommended someone else to represent me in this if I needed it, but she said the same, that there's no limit on nights a week etc, which is also what CAB and WTC said. WTC were great, asked if we shared bills (no), any joint bank accounts (no), who shops and pays for food and house stuff (me), does he give me any money (no), then said there's no limit on nights etc. I volunteered other info like that I'm going on holiday with him soon and we'd shared the cost and they said that was fine and a holiday with a bf didn't constitute living together. They asked what our future plans were and I said long term we would like to move in together but we are both getting divorced, both have houses to sell, he can't give me any money at the mo cos he's got none as he's still paying his wife's mortgage... they said fine, phone us back when things change!

 

The council thing was totally unprofessional, two men in jeans just shouting me down whenever I tried to reply. They wouldn't even let me say that they were describing the wrong car! Just didn't listen to a thing I said

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I wouldn't dare complain, it was terrifying going through that, I just want rid of them so they can't tell me what to do. The fraud officer was really nasty on the phone when I wrote in to relinquish all my HB and CTR. They showed me no evidence, they'd have had a job to as there is none because nothing's happened except my bf stays over. He said hey had enough evidence to prosecute me but I guess they just say that to scare you. They've got what they wanted, I've ended my claim, I'm not prepared to go through this again and I'm definitely not prepared to only see my bf one night a week. We are adults with 5 kids between us, you don't just move in with someone you've seen once a week, it takes time, you build up to it. They didn't care, presumably just wanted a result, had a target to meet, I dunno, but I hope that's the last of it now

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That does sound atrocious and you've been treated very badly. I'd like to say though that although there is no set limit on how many nights a bf can stay over, you would have a hard job convincing a court he doesn't live with you if it is too many a week regularly, or even if it is every weekend and his weekday residence is work based only and not for home life iykwim. Once a Judge believes he is living with you even if he doesn't financially contribute they would then expect him to contribute and may well side with the DWP/LA. However from what you say, it seems his main residence is elsewhere, and he only stays with you sometimes and there is absolutely no financial links either and there is no evidence that has been produced anyway so I can't see this going anywehere.

 

I think people who are eligible to claim HB and CTR really need it though and can't manage without the help, how will you manage now you've ended your claim?

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I was just wondering that? How will you manage, I cancelled my claim 2 years ago because of the hassle they put me through, but I was lucky enough to pick the right time to get work to up my hours & we lived on 100 a week for food etc for a year before I couldn't manage anymore due to rent rise & cost of living going up, & claimed again.

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