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Ask Clare Your Own Question
Clare
Clare, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 34233
Experience:  I have been a solicitor in High Street Practice since 1985 with a wide general experience.
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my partner has been investigated by DWP for benefit fraud.

Customer Question

my partner has been investigated by DWP for benefit fraud. they say i had been living with her whilst she was claiming as a single mother. i had been living with different work mates near manchester at the time. i had no formal arrangements with workmates and generally 'floated' on a sometimes week to week basis. in reality i had no fixed abode, the person i initially spent the most time staying with moved to new zealand.
as i had most of my mail come to my partners address they say i was living there. i did visit frequently however as we have a child together. she has now been asked to pay back around £9k+ in housing benefit and £1k in tax credit.
on paper it doesn't sound the most likely of stories, but my place of work is 50 miles away and it would have been infeasible at the time for me to travel from my girlfriends (at the time) house to work each day considering i only earn 18.5k/yr. She lived in south stoke-on-trent.
since the dwp have investigated my partner i moved in with her and informed all relevant persons of the change. hmrc have said everything is fine and have no issues with her. dwp still say she has committed fraud. there is no prosecution pending from what we can tell but we cannot afford to pay this, and indeed why should we if we have done no wrong. how can we contest this? in reality SOT council owe us around £600 but are refusing to pay because of this case.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ash replied 2 years ago.
Alex Watts :

Hello my name is ***** ***** I will help you with this.

Alex Watts :

If you had no fixed address why did you not use a PO Box or Mailbox etc please?

JACUSTOMER-gg3005bx- :

well its an additional expense and i didn't think it would have repercussions like this. where i could i had put down addresses as 'care of'.

Alex Watts :

OK - how often did he stay? Why could he not use his parents?

JACUSTOMER-gg3005bx- :

i stayed overnight on most weekends and when i had a few days in a row off from work (we had a child together). my parents (and all of my family bar a sister i dont talk to) live abroad (Malta).

Alex Watts : Did she ever declare you were staying and if not, why not?
JACUSTOMER-gg3005bx- :

yes, she always said i stayed over most weekends and when i had a few days off, no one questioned it.

Alex Watts :

Ok - to be clear she told them and nothing was ever said or done?

JACUSTOMER-gg3005bx- :

no, nothing, she had an investigation previously and explained the situation to the officer and he was fine with the situation as it was only weekends and such.

Alex Watts :

Ok, in that case she is not guilty of any offence.

Alex Watts :

If your partner informed them then she can not be guilty of failure to declare a change in circumstance.

Alex Watts :

As such is there is an overpayment she can appeal that decision

Alex Watts :

Then it would go to a Tribunal and they would decide who they believe.

Alex Watts :

She would need to give evidence saying that she told them

Alex Watts :

I would hope she would have some records of telephone calls.

Alex Watts :

If not then she can apply to BT or her mobile provider for her phone records.

Alex Watts :

But if she spoke to them and informed them you were staying and she has phone records to back it up, she has nothing to worry about

Alex Watts :

Can I clarify anything for you about this today please?

JACUSTOMER-gg3005bx- :

you have misunderstood. they say we were living together when i only stayed at weekends and days off. that is what she told them about. they say i was living there permanently though. we contest this but they are still saying she has to pay back the money.

Alex Watts :

Yes, I understand.

Alex Watts :

But as I understand it your partner had told the council you had been staying

Alex Watts :

If that is the case it wont be an issue

Alex Watts :

But if she had NOT told the DWP you were staying, this would be an issue

Alex Watts :

Does this clarify?

JACUSTOMER-gg3005bx- :

yes it does. why are they so insistent that she has committed fraud now? HMRC have cleared her and have no issue with her in regards ***** ***** credits and such. how on earth does she get them off her back and stop chasing her for money that she shouldn't owe? what on earth is their case?

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
To supplement the above.
You stayed with your partner and your joint child whenever you were not working - is that correct?
If so then I am afraid that this can be viewed as cohabitation - and your partner may well be liable to repay the monies.
Clare