How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Alice H Your Own Question
Alice H
Alice H, Solicitor/Partner
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 2850
Experience:  Partner in national law firm
30932268
Type Your Law Question Here...
Alice H is online now

I have a question Re Benefit fraud (claiming carers allowance

Resolved Question:

I have a question Re Benefit fraud (claiming carers allowance whilst in part time employment and exceeding the upper earning limit)
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Alice H replied 3 years ago.
My name isXXXXX and I'm happy to help with your question today.

What would you like to know exactly?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

i have had an interview under caution with DWP re benefit fraud and it was established there was an over payment of 5900 pounds over a three year period.


 


i am currently paying it back 200 per month


 


i started working part time but failed to inform DWP of my earnings which exceeded the 100 per week upper limit


 


they are currently deciding on whether to prosecute or not.


 


i initially told them that i didn't t think i did anything wrong, but i accept that I am obliged to pay back the overpayment. The DWP told me that this wasn't an acceptance of the charge against me, so may proceed to court.


 


My question is, if i put forward a guilty plea now, will it avoid proceeding to court action?


 


I am a teacher, and provide for my family and disabled wife.


 


Can you help?



Thanks


 

Expert:  Alice H replied 3 years ago.
Good afternoon Craig.

You cannot enter a 'guilty plea' unless you are prosecuted.

I imagine you want to know whether, if you admit guilt, there are alternatives to a prosecution.

The DWP have the following options where there is alleged benefit fraud:

1. Adminster a caution. This is a formal warning and requires an admission of guilt from you.

2. Administrative Penalty. This is where you repay the overpayment with a penalty of 30%.

However, for a caution and adminsitrative penalty the overpayment usually has to be much lower than £5K. The caution is for exceptional cases where the overpayment is usually less than £1K. The AP is usually for cases where the overpayment is less than £2K.

You could admit the offence in the hope the DWP will either caution or give you an AP - but in my experience the chances of non-court action is very low indeed. Cases involving £5K or more are normally prosecuted.

If the matter went to court and you pleaded guilty I would expect the court to impose, in the worst casescenario, a community penalty e.g. unpaid work/curfew/supervsion.

Sadly a conviction at court forms part of a persons criminal record. This means that convictions which result in fines or community orders are discloseable for 5 years under the 'standard disclosure' rules.

Hope this helps. Happy to discuss further.

Alex
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

My wife filled in the benefit claim forms, and sent them off


-i have not disclosed this to the DWP as she has mental health problems. and i felt i needed to protect her from any undue stress. Neither of us were aware of the upper earning limit.


 


Should I disclose them to DWP, and would it stop them pursuing me?


 


Thanks.

Expert:  Alice H replied 3 years ago.
I'm not sure what difference it would make to disclosing that your wife completed the form.

The duty is on the claimant to disclose a change in circumstances. Starting a job even part time is a changr.

Also the DWP give leaflets about the maximum number of hours and income a person can earn before benefits are affected.

Lack of knowledge about the upper limit helps you because you could say you were not acting dishonestly and non-disclosure was a result of a misunderstanding.

However, even though dishonesty is ruled out you still have a problem with the failure to notify a change in circumstances which would have affected your entitlement to benefit.

Alex
Alice H and 7 other Law Specialists are ready to help you