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Last year was not good for me; I was suffering from depression and had a serious alcohol problem. This made it hard for me to hold down a job for more than a week or two at a time. I was living in London and made a claim for JSA and housing benefit. I was granted both. But I missed signing on a few times and the jsa stopped but the housing benefit continued to be paid into my account. Having never claimed before I wasn't sure on how the two were connected or that it was my responsibility to notify the local council of my change in circumstances.

 

I finally ran out of money and moved back up to Scotland to stay with my family, I left my belongings in the flat but someone else started paying rent for my room, a friend of the people I was living with, despite the fact he didn't move in to the flat until Feb this year. Between the end of Sept, when I moved back to Scotland, and now, I lived in a number of places including a hostel, friends' couches, as a lodger, as a sub-letter and am only now getting back on my feet.

 

I stopped receiving the housing benefit at the start of Feb this year and a month or two later received a letter at my family home in Scotland asking me to attend an 'interview under caution' - due to the fact I was no longer living in the area and work commitments I was unable to make it to the first appointment and subsequently failed to agree upon a date that would be suitable.

 

Meanwhile, I had given them an address in London that they could send my mail to and I received another letter from the local council stating the exact amount that I had been overpaid and I called the overpayments team and agreed to set up a direct debit to start paying it back - the total was around £1,800.

 

I thought that starting the direct debit would be enough to settle the matter. However, last week I was contacted again about having to go in to the council office for an 'interview under caution'. I'm currently back in Scotland.

 

What I'm basically asking for advice on is what my options are: do I need to go? What will happen if I don't? And have I already made an admittance of committing fraud by starting the direct debit? I just want to avoid court or getting into legal trouble.

 

Any advice will be greatly appreciated.

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You don't have to go, however normal policy is that if you fail to attend they will just prosecute you based on the evidence they have obtained.

 

The general ruls is three invitations to attend and then passe the case to the Legal dept.

 

On a side note the overpayment and pay back are the civil side and the how and why are the criminal side. The civil side has been sorted, they now want to sort the criminal element.

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I don't understand what you have done wrong , I would go to be honest because I had a letter saying I had a meeting to attend under caution. I received a letter on the 12th July saying had one for 18th July and I went this Thursday and I was found not Guilty and it was the job centre mess up . I angry at the moment :-x because what I went though was unnecessary. They have stopped my housing benefit and council tax benefit. To cut a long story short I moved to my mums for couple mouths after I left my long term partner and I come by hard times so I signed on. In November of 2012 I moved in to my own place and I informed the jobcentre on 4 different occasions' of my new addresses. When I went to the interview on Thursday I found out they thought I was signing on from 2 different addresses. I was really annoyed .

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I don't think it helped you setting up a direct debit. You should go to the interview. You wont go to court for a overpayment of £1,800. if you wasn't advice you had to tell your council you shouldn't of starting paying it back. Are you still receiving benefits? Go to C.A.B .. Was you seeing a Dr for you alcohol problem's? a letter from you Dr would be helpful.

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I don't understand what you have done wrong

 

It would seem that the OP has failed to notify a Change in Circumstances, in that he moved back to Scotland, but continued to receive HB for an address in London.

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He started to pay it back and it would cost more than £1,800 to send the case to court. If he wasn't paying it back they would get items of the cost of £1,800 from his propriety .. I have not seen any one going to court for a small amount of £1,800. If the person is still receiving benefits they will take little amounts and may reduce the payments of what benefits you was receiving. I would go to the interview. If that was the case they accused me wrongly they would of took me to court. They think I had a overpayment of JSA. They thought I was getting paid twice because they had to different addresses for me. The overpayment would be over £2,500

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I feel like my thread has been hi-jacked a bit here - any advice for me, anyone?

 

I can only apologise for your thread having been hijacked as this had not been noticed or reported.

 

However I have now taken out the post's that should not have been in here.

 

Regards

 

seanamarts

 

Site team

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Paying the debt back isn't an admission of benefit fraud, it's an admission of there having been an over payment & you agree to pay it back.

As for the IUC, if you ignore it, it wont just go away put it that way. It's also not unusual for them to prosecute after the debt has been completely paid back even. It's a seperate thing. The over payment, & the possible benefit fraud, a civil matter & a criminal matter.

I have certainly known someone local being prosecuted for benefit fraud less than £1000 even. It's not always the amount.

There is a large difference between an over payment because of DWP's error & someone not notifying of a change in circs, so it's no good someone else telling you you wont be prosecuted just because they weren't.

As annoying as it is, personally I would go to the IUC. It's you chance to put your side across, & they would possibly be more likely to prosecute someone that they had a certain amount of evidence against if they refuse to follow procedures rather than if they went along to explain their side & maybe clear it up with no prosecution.

Put it this way, I had been over paid £1600, & had arranged to pay it back before I was invited to an IUC, over payment partly my fault, partly theirs, but they needed to do that IUC to establish my side. I didn't get prosecuted. But I expect they may have prosecuted me if I had ignored the IUC though.

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So I ended up going to the IUC and it was nowhere near as bad as I thought it might be. The only reason they wanted to interview me was because the system flagged up that I had stopped claiming JSA but still kept receiving HB - they didn't know if I'd been working, if I was still at the same address, or anything apart from the discrepancy between the JSA/HB.

 

I ended up being honest about my situation and the person who interviewed me was very sympathetic - she said that the amount that I owe will need to be reassessed and it might even turn out that it will be less than the first amount quoted.

 

Now I have to send them my bank statements to show how much I earned over that period and then they will use that to assess how much I actually owe.

 

Feel stupid for not just going to the IUC after I received the first letter as it would have saved me a lot of stress and maybe even some money!

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