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Housing Benefit Overpayment - Acting as an executor

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Good afternoon,

 

We are hoping someone may be able to give us some advice on an extremely stressful situation.

 

Up to the end of January 2014 my partner and I have been receiving assistance from housing benefit as our employment/business situation has been far from standard over the past few years. We have endeavoured to notify the council of anything which would affect our claim and have been working extremely hard to get ourselves out of the position where we need this assistance.

 

We were invited to an interview under caution in February 2014 as there had been a discrepancy in our capital. This came as a surprise initially but after attending the interview it was clear why it had occurred.

 

In January 2013 we lost a close relative and I was executor to the Will. This meant that over the following few months, some large sums of money passed through my account as they were being dispersed from the banks to the beneficiaries as well as paying the estate expenses. In hindsight it would have made sense for us to have notified the council that the funds were passing through our accounts but because only a small amount would end up being legally ours, we knew it wouldn't take us over the threshold and therefore didn't want to complicate matters any further (there had already been several complications relating to my employment which led to suspension and re-instatement several times plus countless hours of letter writing to explain everything over and over again).

 

Anyway, during the interview under caution I had prepared a full breakdown of the amounts passing through our accounts (down to the penny) and could show that after everything was paid and transferred to the beneficiaries, we were left with less than £16,000 and the amount which was left was used to pay off a debt relating to my employment. Following the interview, several more pieces of information were requested by the council and everything was provided in a timely manner.

 

Last month we received a series of decision notices dated 4th April (standard computer generated notices) saying that we had been overpaid by just over £3,500 in housing benefit and £500 in council tax benefit. Their calculation made no sense as the figures didn't relate to any that had been provided throughout the investigation but they seemed to have taken the first lump sum paid in and then suspended our entitlement from that day forward.

 

We spent a considerable amount of time looking over the overpayment periods and then wrote back to them (within the 1 month window on the 24th April) to say that we intended to appeal the decision as none of the information had been taken into account and their figures did not make sense. We also requested a breakdown of their calculations and a statement of reasons.

 

We didn't receive a reply until 8th May which is just outside the 1 month appeal window stating that they would like us to attend an interview to agree to pay an administrative penalty of 50% of the overpayments which totals over £2000 on top of the overpayment.

 

They appear to have ignored the letter requesting a breakdown of their calculations and our appeal intentions. I have written to them again requesting the breakdown and advising that if it isn't provided then we will have no choice but to make a formal complaint and involve the local government ombudsman.

 

We are concerned that they have only given us around 2 weeks before we need to sign and agree to the administrative penalty or court proceedings will begin.

 

Has anyone experienced a situation where the money in their account isn't legally theirs and therefore cannot be of benefit to them? The council had a copy of the Will during the interview and it was referred to several times so they were aware that the money wasn't ours.

 

Any advice would be appreciated as the situation has caused us a huge amount of stress over the past few months.

 

Kind regards

R & G

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I can't help as regards the overpayment. However the Ad Penalty invite has been issued by the fraud team who may well be unaware you have appealed the overpayment.

 

As regards the beneficial interest of the money, you will need to appeal.


Please do not ask me for advice via PM as I will not reply.

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I know it is too late now but for anyone elses reference you should have opened an executors account with the bank, this is quite usual. It is quite easy to build up overpayments because for every £1 you are over the threshold you lose 85p in benefit .

If possible can you get into the council to go through it all , remeber that unless told, the right hand never knows what the left hand is doing


Any opinion I give is from personal experience .

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I don't know if the council you are dealing with would agree to postpone the ad pen pending the outcome of the appeal?

 

Does it give an alleged offence under section 112 of the social security administration act on the ad pen letter?

 

Beneficial interest is a complex area of social security law - I'd suggest you get help from welfare rights or similar with writing the appeal


Please do not ask me for advice via PM as I will not reply.

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Hi,

 

Sorry about the delay. There were two letters sent, one regarding housing benefit and the other council tax. The housing benefit makes reference to section 115a of the social security administration act 1992. It also says you can only pay an admin penalty which is recoverable under section 71, 71a, 75 or 76 of the social security administration act 1992.

 

The council tax letter refers to section 14C of the local government finance act 1992.

 

I had until the 7th May to appeal the original over-payment decision notices which I did on the 24th April. I requested a statement of reasons and advised that I intended to appeal. I didn't receive a reply.

 

On the 8th May we received the admin penalty letters and they refer to the over-payment notices which we had the right to appeal. I sent another letter in on the 8th May by recorded mail which stated that I'd had no reply and would like to appeal the decision. Still no reply so I called the investigations team the day before the admin penalty meeting on 21st May to find out what was happening.

 

Apparently the first letter had been received and was being dealt with but he couldn't find the letter sent in by recorded mail. He has postponed the admin meeting until he returns from holiday early July.

 

There seems to be two departments working on this, investigations and housing benefit but they don't appear to talk to each other!

 

I have no issue repaying an over-payment if there has been an oversight on our part whilst dealing with the deceased estate but I don't see how they can use the full amounts passing through my account when I didn't have legal right to the money (and they know this from the interview under caution where they had a copy of the will and confirmed that I had no legal right to it).

 

I knew nothing about an executors account and it was never mentioned so I wouldn't have thought to look for an alternative. If i'd have known it would cause this much of a problem then I would of asked someone else to use their bank account to prevent it showing up on housing benefit radar however, this seems more deceiving than just being honest about what i'm dealing with!

 

Kind regards

Rich

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Hi rich

 

This is just a suggestion, have you considered contacting your MP for assistance in resolving this. The fact that your sending letters, they are either being ignored or go missing, when you have cooperated fully with them.

 

This is clearly causing you a lot of stress and anxiety.

 

http://findyourmp.parliament.uk/

 

Antone (Site Team) will provide further advice, soon as he is available.

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You are absolutely right - there are two teams working on this- the investigation team deals with the alleged criminal offence (the IUC and the Ad Pen) and the other with the calculation of benefits. The appeal is dealt with someone else and then the recovery by someone else again!

It sounds fair that the investigations team have delayed any ad pen action until the overpayment/ statement of reasons is looked at.

 

My advice would be when you contact one department about this issue you copy the other in- do you have email addresses you can use?


Please do not ask me for advice via PM as I will not reply.

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You are absolutely right - there are two teams working on this- the investigation team deals with the alleged criminal offence (the IUC and the Ad Pen) and the other with the calculation of benefits. The appeal is dealt with someone else and then the recovery by someone else again!

It sounds fair that the investigations team have delayed any ad pen action until the overpayment/ statement of reasons is looked at.

 

My advice would be when you contact one department about this issue you copy the other in- do you have email addresses you can use?

 

As Shoelover says here, there are various teams involved in this process and they don't always speak to each other. They should, I suppose, but you can't assume that they will. Since some of what's going on seems to be administrative confusion, you could try contacting your local councillor in the first instance and see if he or she can help.

 

If they have accepted that you were not the "beneficial owner" of the capital that passed through your account (per the IUC), then that should not be forming any part of a fraud action against you. Did this whole process leave you with any funds over £6000 to which you were legally entitled?


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Hi all,

 

Sorry for the delay in updating this thread but as you are aware, everything takes weeks to get resolved and it still isn't unfortunately.

 

They initially came back and said that they understand the majority of the large payments passing through our account were for beneficiaries and therefore have been discounted. However now they have jumped on another aspect which was previously dismissed. The property in the Will was left to my father who decided not to sell but to rent it out, re-mortgage and then invest again. The property is 2 mins walk from our front door and he asked if we would assist him to get it rented out and then manage it since we were so close. To do this he opened a separate account to use solely for this property and added my name to it in order to pay bills without his input etc.

 

It was explained in the interview under caution that although my name was on the account, I had no benefit from the funds contained in it and this was backed up by a letter from my Dad as requested by the council. Once the property had been remortgaged there was obviously a large sum of money belonging my Dad sitting in the account.

 

As I was made redundant last year with a huge training loan hanging over me, we had to make a decision about which way we went with our careers in order to continue meeting our commitments. As we had learnt a lot helping my Dad rent out the property, we decided that property sourcing and management was the avenue we would go down in view of working with the council to help bridge the gap between private landlords and council tenants. We researched, met with the housing officers and decided that we would need to take some educational courses in order to get up and running quickly and my Dad agreed to loan us some money to do the course (which we would pay back once we were back on our feet).

 

After the Will was distributed, we were left with just over £10,000 which was all paid to clear the arrears on my training loan, therefore borrowing money to do the property training was our only option.

 

We did the course and have successfully sourced 2 properties in our town (for outside investors) which we rent to council tenants. This has enabled us to sign off of housing benefit whilst helping those less fortunate who are in a position we have been familiar with several times over the years. It is also helping the council who have since added us to a "recommended landlord" list as we have been so compliant.

 

The fraud department have now decided that because my Dad loaned us some money to do the training courses out of the account which had my name on it, we were entitled to 50% of everything in the joint account and therefore the over-payment still stands. They see that he has "invested in our business" therefore we have benefited from the money where the reality is, he simply loaned us some money to do a course which we will pay back with interest.

 

It just seems that as I openly and honestly explain the situation, they are clutching at straws to claim back the benefit when the reality is, if we hadn't borrowed the money from my Dad to do the course, we would have gone bankrupt, my parents would have lost their house (as it is used for security on the training loan with HSBC) and we would have had to claim housing benefit for the foreseeable future along with all the other benefits.

 

I have responded to their claims that we were entitled to 50% of my Dad's inheritance and am awaiting a reply. Depending on the outcome of this, I will maybe need to speak to my local MP or councilor for some assistance because it is taking up so much time and causing so much stress.

 

Thank you for your input.

 

Kind regards

Richard

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You do have my sympathy as I know what a downright pain the council can be when it comes to HB. I appreciate they have to protect public money but sometimes they are not just over zealous but thick as well. Sadly of course there are some people who abuse the system. All you can do is be open and honest and keep plugging away.

I am not sure if it had any relevance but when I was fighting with them over my HB (my circumstances, like yours didn't fit neatly into a box) I wrote to the revenue manager with a complaint. It was only after that letter that I got any resolution


Any opinion I give is from personal experience .

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Think fletch hit the nail on the head when he said about circumstances not fitting nearly in a box.

Have you had a formal decision yet or are they still adjudicating?


Please do not ask me for advice via PM as I will not reply.

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Hi

This was sometime ago and it has been straightforward since then . My problem was that they asked for documents , I sent them but they wanted something else. Then the original docs would be out of date etc etc . They really didn't know what they needed. It may sound silly but have you asked them what info they need to show you are in the clear? I would put money on the fact that they will not know what they want


Any opinion I give is from personal experience .

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I haven't had a formal decision yet, there have been two letters so far: -

 

1) We can see that the money in the joint account is your fathers and have a letter to confirm. But the payments through your personal account take you over the threshold therefore you must pay the benefit back with a fine.

 

This was appealed and I made reference to the fact that none of the information provided at the interview seems to have been taken into account. I then received: -

 

2) Ok, we can see that those payments through your personal account were for beneficiaries and not yours, however your Dad has loaned you some money out of his account therefore we are now going to assume you have benefited from 50% of the money in his account which we had previously discounted.

 

I have appealed this too stating that he hasn't "invested in our business" but merely loaned us some money in order to help us get our heads above water and out of needing assistance from housing benefit. I am awaiting a reply to this letter.

 

If I haven't heard by the end of this week then I may write a complaint to the head of revenue and copy the local MP into it. We know that there has been a new team of 4 people set up to reclaim overpaid housing benefit and in their first year they have recovered £12,500 which wouldn't even cover one team members salary. I understand that there are people who play the system and must be regular claimers but I think from the information we have provided so far it is obvious we are not trying to do this.

 

Thanks

Rich

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The way to look at this is to understand that although your 'story' is the truth, the fraud team hear all sorts of 'stories' every single day that aren't the truth. At this point the fraud team are unable to differentiate the truth from the lies, so all they can rely on in evidence. What evidence can you provide to back up your claims? This is what you need to concentrate on.


We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office ~ Aesop

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I'm not sure what more evidence could be provided.... they have had: -

 

1) bank statements dating back 3 years showing every unusual transaction with an explanation of where it came from, where it went, why and the proof to back it up.

 

2) a copy of the last will and testament - plus a full breakdown of expenses etc. with receipts

 

3) a letter from my Dad confirming that I do not own nor benefit from any money in his account

 

4) A copy of my training loan, payments, arrears accrued and evidence to show they have been brought up to date.

 

5) Current statements to show what debts we still have and what is in our accounts.

 

I don't know what else I could possibly provide. It has taken me many, many hours to get all of the above together and if I had been the kind of person to be playing the system, do they honestly think i'm going to have all this money pass through my account in full view of their checks?!

 

Also, if I had benefited from everything they are referring to, there would be circa £40,000-£50,000 come my way.... would I go to all this extent for a couple of grand in repayments?

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I'm not sure what more evidence could be provided.... they have had: -

 

1) bank statements dating back 3 years showing every unusual transaction with an explanation of where it came from, where it went, why and the proof to back it up.

 

2) a copy of the last will and testament - plus a full breakdown of expenses etc. with receipts

 

3) a letter from my Dad confirming that I do not own nor benefit from any money in his account

 

4) A copy of my training loan, payments, arrears accrued and evidence to show they have been brought up to date.

 

5) Current statements to show what debts we still have and what is in our accounts.

 

I don't know what else I could possibly provide. It has taken me many, many hours to get all of the above together and if I had been the kind of person to be playing the system, do they honestly think i'm going to have all this money pass through my account in full view of their checks?!

 

Also, if I had benefited from everything they are referring to, there would be circa £40,000-£50,000 come my way.... would I go to all this extent for a couple of grand in repayments?

 

Unfortunately the original decision makers themselves are unlikely to listen to reason - this is the point I was making, they are so jaded by the numerous excuses and explanations that when they come across a genuine person, they have no ability to believe them. These cases are usually not resolved until Tribunal where an impartial judge will be able to look logically at the evidence.


We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office ~ Aesop

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Is it still possible to have power to run a bank account without having your name on it. I think my elder sister has that on my mothers and I know my mum had it with her mother. That way you can show you have no interest in tge money.


Any opinion I give is from personal experience .

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Is it still possible to have power to run a bank account without having your name on it.

 

It is called a "Third Party Mandate" - A fairly simple form to fill in at the bank, and the account holder can specify restrictions if required.


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