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    • Thank you everyone for your quick responses I just wish I posted here in the first place    I probably shouldn't have filled in the claim form however on the letter it said I had limited time to do so and because I was dealing with CST law trying to come to an agreement with paying off the debt I didn't think it would get to this point and now I have probably made my situation worst. Of course, I would have posted here first before sending it off had I not been in communication with CST to set up an agreement.    I sent the letter back to the court as some point in early August, the issue date on the claim form is 28th July and the most recent letter I have received 'Notice of fast track' is dated 18th November    If I am honest I can't fully remember what I wrote word for word in my defence, it would have been along the lines of why I left, my reasons and the fact I returned to my old career in an office plus taking a pay cut to do so. There wasn't much room to write a long winded defence so I kept it relativity short.   The above document Andy has posted is the exact document I am now looking at very confused in what exactly I put where    I just want to re-iterate I never agreed with this money I owe due to the training bond but it has gone on for so long at this point I'm happy to set up a payment plan if the balance can get reduced or a small one off payment upfront and this is exactly what I was trying to do prior to receiving the most recent letter    I have had zero communication from CST law, Centrica advised me to deal with them directly and I was waiting for a response from CST with the offer we had put across to Centrica - I chased it multiple times the following weeks and they kept telling me they haven't had a response and when they do we'll contact you which they still have not   Ideally I would rather not give them any money however I feel like I am out of options at what I probably should have done years ago is attempt to get it reduced and set up a payment plan    Please let me know if I have missed any critical info out    Thanks again for everyones help    What is the claim for – the reason they have issued the claim? I left a British Gas apprenticeship within the first 12 months of starting and went back to my old career in an office , my reasons for leaving were down to the completely differant job role which I realised quikcly was not for me and it was impacting my mental health massively. The claim is for a training bond which was in a contract I signed based on a sliding scale Year 1 - £9,000 year 2 £6,000 year 3 £3,000     What is the total value of the claim? £13433    Have you received prior notice of a claim being issued pursuant to paragraph 3 of the PAPDC (Pre Action Protocol) ? Yes   Have you changed your address since the time at which the debt referred to in the claim was allegedly incurred? No  Is the claim for - a Bank Account (Overdraft) or credit card or loan or catalogue or mobile phone account? Training bond due to leaving an apprenticeship before 3 years    When did you enter into the original agreement before or after April 2007 ? After   Do you recall how you entered into the agreement...On line /In branch/By post ? They have sent me a virtually signed document with the contract   Is the debt showing on your credit reference files (Experian/Equifax /Etc...) ? No   Has the claim been issued by the original creditor or was the account assigned and it is the Debt purchaser who has issued the claim. Centrica are claimant, CST law are dealing and the court   Were you aware the account had been assigned – did you receive a Notice of Assignment? I believe so yes   Did you receive a Default Notice from the original creditor? I have had multiple letters like everyone else who has been on the forum over the years regarding this matter   Have you been receiving statutory notices headed “Notice of Sums in Arrears”  or " Notice of Arrears "– at least once a year ? I am unsure, but when I left I had contested the original claim as I was dealing directly with Centrica’s collection team and they never got back to me after the final email I had sent and didn’t hear anything until years down the line   Why did you cease payments? N/A   What was the date of your last payment? N/A   Was there a dispute with the original creditor that remains unresolved? Correct I oringinally contested what was owed back in 2017 and gave my reasons for leaving and I assumed the matter was closed   Did you communicate any financial problems to the original creditor and make any attempt to enter into a debt management plan? No  
    • OK thanks again Andy.   And understood 👍😉
    • Thank you for this. The first thing to be say is that this means that you are winning. It is pretty well unheard of in my experience for the bank to give way and finally return the money. The fact that they have done this under the threat of a judgement for breach of statutory duty indicates even more that they are worried about their position. Nowhere have they indicated that they have complied with the requirements of the Proceeds of Crime Act and informed the National crime agency. I don't believe they have and this is a very serious breach of statutory duty. Not only that it is a very serious breach of the FCA BCOBS regulations in that they are required to treat you fairly. Treating you fairly in this case means that they must comply with the rest of their statutory duties. It appears that they really haven't done this at all and that they have acted in an arbitrary way in disregard of the law and that they are hoping to get away with it. I find myself wondering how many other hundreds of people have been treated in exactly the same way – and you are probably the first ever to have stood up to them and to get them worried. I think I've already indicated that a press contact of mine in the Sunday Times would be very interested in this story. He has already run stories about the very poor standards applied by banks when deciding that their customers are involved in some fraudulent behaviour. The first thing to say about the letter which you have received is that they are trying to apply conditions to releasing your own money. It's your money and there should be no conditions and my suggestion is that you object to this. Secondly, not only are they threatening to continue to withhold your own money – but also they are saying that if they release it to you you will simply have the net figure without any kind of interest or compensation. It's clear that while they have had your money, they have invested it and earn money on it. They have probably been lending it out at between 16% and 20% and although the usual rate of interest is 8%, it seems to me that justice can only be served by repaying you your money plus the commercial rate of interest – at a compound rate. Normally the 8% is calculated at simple. Thirdly, they are not offering to pay you any compensation and clearly they are hoping to get away with it without any kind of sanction or not even a slap on the wrist.   Fourthly, they had the nerve to impose a seven day deadline. Don't worry about their deadline. It's a load of huff and puff. This is all part of their bluff game designed to intimidate you. At the end of seven days – what? Are they then going to insist on going to court?   If they really believe that they had done everything correctly and that the money was fraudulent, then they would not offer it to you back under any circumstances. It would be illegal for them to do so. You can be certain that these people do not want to go to court. In fact they probably wish they had never started.   Finally, they want the matter to be kept confidential – and I can't say I blame them. I would be ashamed if people knew that I had treated somebody else in this way and I'm sure they are worried about reputational damage. I'm also sure that there are extremely worried about what will happen if you get a judgement against them for breach of statutory duty. It will have to be reported to the FCA. It will have to be reported to the NCA. And of course it should be reported to the newspapers because people need to know what is going on. If you want, you can simply accept their proposal – get your money back, given confidentiality – and that's the end of the matter. However, you have no idea how this will impact on your record in the future. I imagine that they will bar you from ever opening an account with them again. – But at least you will have your money and you can get on with your life. However, if you want you can stand your ground and make it clear to them that you are going to be mucked around and treated like this and that you are prepared to go to court if they won't make a proper offer. I understand that you need to pay a court fee of about £350 in the next seven days. I expect that the bank is making this offer now hoping to dissuade you from spending any more money and hoping that you will back down. If you have the money to proceed then I would suggest very strongly that it will be a very serious sign of strength that you tell the bank that you're not interested in that you are paying the fee for the next stage of the court process. If the bank knows that you've called their bluff on this and that you have been prepared to invest further money in moving this legal action forward, then they will start to reflect and I can perfectly well imagine that they will make you another more interesting offer – once again on conditions of confidentiality. Without seeing any further offer, I'm already suggesting that you will probably be best off turning it down. In any event, I would remind you going back several months that I already predicted that the bank would make you confidential offer – and that has happened. I'm not saying that I'm always going to be right here – but I think that now basically the bank have pretty well admitted that they need to pay you your money, there is no chance of you losing it. You will get your money and it really is just a question of how much else you will get in addition. If you'd like to continue then let me know and I will suggest a draft response to them.
    • The cost of living in Britain over a person's lifetime is over £1.5m, new findings have claimed as the nation feels the squeeze amid soaring energy costs and dismal interest rates on cash savings.View the full article
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Magistrates court appearance help - overpayment of HB/CTAX benefits


Scarlets24
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Good afternoon,

 

I am due to attend magistrates court because of an overpayment in housing benefit and council tax benefit.

 

Three years ago I was made redundant, being told this on my first day back at work after Christmas.

 

My wife did not work and we had just had our 3rd child.

I was stressed out an awful lot, but found another job quite quickly, so there was no real break in employment.

I forgot to inform the council of the change. There was so much going on at the time.

 

As soon as I received the letter informing me of the overpayment (about £6500)

I contacted the council and put in place a repayment plan.

 

The council accepted my proposal, which I started paying immediately and I heard nothing else of it for a few months.

Then I received a letter saying I was being investigated and needed to attend an IUC.

I went to the IUC and explained what had happened. Again a few months passed and

 

last week I received the summons to court.

I do not know what to do now.

Will a duty solicitor be able to help me on the day, as I think I will struggle to afford a solicitor.

 

Any advice will be much appreciated.

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What offence does the summons state ?

 

You would be better to see what legal help you can get locally. Don't leave it until the date of the hearing hoping there is a duty Solicitor. Depending on the details, a Solicitor that deals with benefit claim issues, might help you avoid a conviction.

We could do with some help from you.

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I agree with Unclebulgaria - if at all possible, try to find help from an experienced solicitor as soon as you can. At the very least, don't rule out the possibility of hiring a local lawyer until you've talked to one and found out what the fees will be. Is there any possibility that you would be entitled to Legal Aid?

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I would agree with the above - if you go for a duty solicitor they won't have time to fully read the papers & give you the best possible defence.

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

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the summons states the following: Alleged Offence(s):

 

That you committed the offence(s) of which particulars are given in the attached Schedule of Alleged Offence(s) contrary to Section 112(1A)(a) of the Social Security Adminstration Act 1992 and contrary to Regulation 8 of the Council Tax Reduction Schemes (Detection of Fraud and Enforcement) (England) Regulations 2013

 

The schedule goes on to state:

 

1. That between XXXX date and XXXX Date for the purpose of obtaining payments of housing benefit to which you were not entitled, you without reasonable excuse, failed to report a change of circumstances to the council, the circumstance being that your earnings had increased upon commencement of employment with a new employer, a change you were aware would affect your entitlement to benefit. Contrary to Section 112(1A)(a) of the Social Security Adminstration Act 1992

 

2. That between XXXX date and XXXX Date you failed without reasonable excuse to report a change of circumstances to the council, the circumstances being that your earnings had increased upon commencement of employment with a new employer, a change you were aware would affect your entitlement to a reduction of Council Tax. Contrary to Regulation 8 of the Council Tax Reduction Schemes (Detection of Fraud and Enforcement) (England) Regulations 2013

Edited by honeybee13
Paras.
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For how long roughly did you continue to receive housing and council tax benefit to which you were no longer entitled to or would be reduced ?

 

I think this could be key to whether you can defend or not.

 

You really need to contact a Solicitor or legal advisor who deals with benefit issues. Around the country there are Citizen Advice and legal advice centres, which have connections to people who deal with these issues on a regular basis. You might strike lucky and get some free help, depending on your circumstances. You don't want to leave it until the court hearing date as explained.

We could do with some help from you.

PLEASE HELP US TO KEEP THIS SITE RUNNING EVERY POUND DONATED WILL HELP US TO KEEP HELPING OTHERS

 

 Have we helped you ...?         Please Donate button to the Consumer Action Group

 

If you want advice on your thread please PM me a link to your thread

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Were you interviewed by the council or the DWP?

 

And very important. What date does it say the information was laid? Should be on the summons

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

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The investigation of housing benefit fraud is done by DWP now. It's unusual for the council to prosecute for HB now.

 

I would suggest you try & find a solicitor with benefit experience.

Having said all that, they are the less serious 112 offences and if you have never been in trouble before and the amount is only 6k then I doubt the courts will be that harsh. If you are worried look up the sentencing guidelines for benefit fraud and it will tell you roughly what you are looking at

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

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