Please can this question be answered by Clare the Solicitor on this site who is familiar with my case.
You answered a question recently about my ESA and a fraud investigation which is on going. Thank you for your answer, it was very helpful. I have a few follow up questions I hope you can help with.
Because an investigation has been commenced by the DWP, this has feed through to my Council who have stopped my Housing Benefit. As a result, the majority of my benefits have been suspended now (both ESA and Housing Benefit) while this investigation is on going. This has obviously put me in a very difficult financial situation and I would like to know what options I have available to me.
1) Regarding the Housing Benefit, I have submitted a Nil Income Declaration to my council a few weeks ago in the hope of re-starting my Housing Benefit. I have not heard anything back. Will this declaration mean the council has to restart my benefit? Even if there is an investigation on going?
2) Regarding the ESA, I believe I can apply for ESA hardship payments. However, this is quite complex given my situation and what I am being investigated for. You may remember from my previous question on this site that I am being investigated about whether I am receiving income based ESA or not. I am aware that the Hardship ESA payment is an income based benefit. My concern is if I apply for this benefit while an investigation is on going, I don’t want to do anything to prejudice my defence i.e. I am claiming for my defence that I did not apply for an income based benefit, but if now start applying for the Hardship ESA (which is an income based benefit) will this affect the investigation? It sounds like I am saying one this and doing another!! Given the investigation is on going, I have have no idea what type of ESA I am on or entitled to and I am scared to do anything to negatively affect my defence. I hope the questions make sense.
Please let me know your thoughts.