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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 70529
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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I have been on JSA following redundancy in Novermber 2012.

Customer Question

I have been on JSA following redundancy in Novermber 2012. I worked for one week in June 2013 and duly declared it to the DWP. This triggered a 'compliance interview', which has been conducted and now I need to send in a month's bank statements and sign a declaration. My husband (retired) has had income through B and B in our house, which we have not declared. Is it better to come clean about this now and pay it back (not that we can)? I have complied with all the requirements very robustly with regard to the job search. In this recession and at my age (55) I came to the conclusion that I may never get work, and he tried to help by getting us in a position to go self-employed. We can now (mainly because I've got enough offers which together can form an income - including B&B), and I duly signed off today. The bank statements for the period show Paypal payment in, which is from this B&B. It was his work not mine - but as he's retired on half a state pension, the claim is a joint one I feel very bad about this and would hate to lie - we are of good character. Without this we would not have survived or kept our house. Nobody can live on £71 per week! I'm on xxxxxxxx  Juliet

Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
Jo C. :

Hi. Thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I will try to help with this.

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Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
Hi
Sorry I hit reply too quickly!
How can I help with this?
How much is the overpayment roughly please?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi - I don't understand the technology of this at all! We have 'earned' about £18k from the house. I didn't do any 'work'

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
Ok.
So, if your JSA is £71 a week that would be about 3 months at £71 a week which would be roughly £850?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

No. As a couple we have received £292.76 per fortnight since my claim following redundancy on November 25th 2012. At Easter 2013 he began taking B&B guests to see if it would work and be able to provide an income we could live on an then go off benefits. As we get mortgage interest and council tax paid, we could never afford for me to go off benefits because of this - but always intended to and declare this info after the event - I know that's wrong but we would not have survived - and it has worked in that we are now able to go off (what with my other offers - I also have an interview for a job tomorrow)

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I just need to know whether it's best to come clean now, and if I offer to (eventually) pay any money back what the consequences are likely to be if I do that?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
Ok.
So nine months roughly from Easter would at £292.76 per fortnight would be roughly £5270 on my calculations?
Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
Thanks for the information.
The truth is that its likely they can prove this. The DWP investigators do sometimes investigate false avenues basically because you can report benefit fraud anonymously and all forms of anonymous reporting encourage people to make false reports to settle grievances. However, usually they don't invite people in for interview unless there is some evidence against them. In this case, you accept receiving money and not declaring it.
I've done some very rough calculations that put the overpayment at roughly £5270 or thereabouts. That is an overpayment that exceeds the cut off point at which they will just let you repay. Usually most councils will just allow people to repay if the sum is under £2000-£3000. This is a higher amount than that so they may well prefer to prosecute.
You seem to accept knowing that it should have been declared so its not possible to argue honest mistake. They might take the view its an honest mistake anyway basically because it arose from your own report.
Generally speaking its a bad idea to admit offences during interview but I think here is an exception. Its a long shot of course. However, since they probably can prove this and you cannot deny it, you may as well come clean in the hope they take the view that this is not in the public interest to prosecute.
Hope this helps. Please let me know if you need more information.
Jo
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thanks very much.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
No problem and all the best.
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