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help appealing benefit decision re living with ex?

(22 Posts)
FlippinStuck Tue 14-Jan-14 18:54:24

have NC'd, would really appreciate some advice!

Background: I moved to a new area to be with (now ex) DP, left my job to move as his job paid more, couldn't claim any benefits originally as we were a couple and after a few months he got tired of supporting me financially and I felt more like his child than partner since I had to ask him for money (along with him being emotionally abusive), so we split up, but since we had both signed the tenancy agreement (renting) we are still living in the same house since we both lived with parents before moving out and for various reasons can't go back there - mine live at the other end of the country for a start and now I have settled here after just over a year, so we have nowhere to go but the house we are staying in now

We have separate rooms and don't really speak to each other much but every 2 weeks I get a lift with him to tesco and we individually do our shop then I get a lift back again, otherwise I would have to get an hour long bus with a million shopping bags as I can't drive so it is far more convenient to go with him, other than this we don't really do anything together

Anyway benefits were aware of this and I was claiming JSA and Housing - still not getting a lot from it and could only just pay my half of rent and food for myself, exDP has to pay all the electric and gas etc and I contribute when I can. I can't even afford to move and rent 1 room in somebody else's house as I don't get enough money from it so I am stuck in this house with ex!

I had a customer compliance interview a few weeks ago and told them all this info but with more details - like a 2 hour long interrogation, and today was told that they have stopped all my benefits as they believe we are still together! I'm so upset as now I have literally no income or savings and have to feed myself aswell as try to pay all my half of bills but now have no money to do so! I am actively looking for a job but as of yet have had no luck though am also looking into volunteering but of course don't get money from that

Tomorrow I have requested that they phone me back and tell me on what exactly their decision was based, then I will try and appeal against it but was told on the phone today that I would have to provide more evidence for them to believe me? I don't have anything else other than all of what I already told them which is the truth, they can come and look at my house and see all our things are separated but what else do I have that can count as 'evidence'?! Can anyone help me with what to do or say to them to try and get my benefits reinstated? From their point of view I can see how our living situation might look a bit dodgy but neither of us have anywhere else to go except to live here, so now I am meant to just starve to death and be homeless because they don't believe me?

This has turned out a lot longer than expected but wanted to give a bit of background info which is the same as what they have - what else can I say/do/add to prove to them that we are separated? So stressed out and never been on benefits before so no idea how to deal with all this sad

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 14-Jan-14 19:23:53

I don't understand why you can't move out. Just because you're on the tenancy agreement, that doesn't mean you have to stay put now that the relationship has ended. If you can't afford your half of the rent and you have no assets or income, the landlord (private?) would go after him for the arrears if you just walked out. If you don't have a job (and you don't mention any children) you could go back to your parents' place or anywhere else you fancied really. 'Settled' is when you have ties.

You're treated as a couple if you are or appear to be living as a couple and, if you've explained it all for 2 hours and they still think you appear to be living as a couple, I don't fancy your chances.

Fairylea Tue 14-Jan-14 19:30:22

Unfortunately this all looks really messy. I'm sorry but I think you are going to have to try and move out, you might find you get more financial help if you are actually living alone even if you have to get in a bit of debt to get out.

You say your ex is paying the bills etc and you are contributing when you can..? Well this will seem like you and your ex are living as a couple as you are paying the bills together! You need completely separate finances. The going to tesco together won't look good if anyone is watching you - can you not get separate online deliveries?

Do you have children? If you do then look into tax credits as if you are a single parent you will get help from that too.

FlippinStuck Tue 14-Jan-14 19:43:10

No children, exP can pay all the rent alone if he needed, I get £400 a month from both benefits combined and my half of rent was 325 which I gave to ex via bank transfer as the rent comes out of his account as a direct debit, leaving me £75 for the rest of the month for food, toiletries and travel. If I moved out to rent a room the cheapest I saw it for was about 350/month, leaving me worse off, and I asked my advisor and she said that I wouldn't be eligible to any changes in my current benefits if I lived alone as atm my housing benefit is based off me renting 1 room in a house which is what they say for my age I should be doing, when infact I am sharing half a house with ex having the other half and I wouldn't have enough money for either

The 'contributing when I can' was, say, if I had extra money like at christmas, I'd transfer some to his account to contribute towards my half of elec/gas that he is currently paying

FlippinStuck Tue 14-Jan-14 19:45:22

also I used to live with my mum, rarely ever see my dad as they are divorced, I used to share a room with my 16yo sister when I lived there (I'm 21) and never got on with my mum well, I did ask if I could go back but was told no there is no room and she doesn't want me back, I have no other relatives who I know well enough that I could ask to live there

FlippinStuck Tue 14-Jan-14 19:48:13

And yes I could get tesco deliveries - tbh that had never even crossed my mind, I totally forgot that they existed! But then it is also paying the £5ish delivery cost which when my money is so tight I can't really afford when I could get a free lift there, exP doesn't do 'online' things so wouldn't be able to share a delivery cost with him either - plus that would mean communicating with him when trying to make a shopping list, no thanks!

FlippinStuck Tue 14-Jan-14 19:50:14

Argh I keep posting then remembering more things to add blush I can see how it looks to the benefit people though now you said it like that Fairy & Cogito, but surely there is some way that I can prove we split up in my appeal? Really don't know what I am going to do without that money...

kylesmybaby Tue 14-Jan-14 20:02:44

Don't have any magic answer but he is not going to want to pay more than his half so things can only get worse between you both really. Think you may need to go home and use this as a lesson learnt. Once the benefits people make up there mind there's no changing them I'm afraid. If you really can't go home then Forget about the volunteering you need money quickly, put together a CV tonight and hand it out to every shop in the high road in the morning.

Fairylea Tue 14-Jan-14 20:06:56

I agree with kyles I'm afraid. Sorry.

You're not living separately, from a benefits point of view everything is being paid together.

You shouldn't even be consulting him re the food shopping or worrying about what he has on his list. You should be like lodgers and have separate food entirely however uneconomical that sounds.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 14-Jan-14 20:09:55

If the rent comes out of your ex's account, your name may be on the tenancy agreement but the financial transaction is between the landlord and your ex. That's a point in favour of getting out. By paying your ex rather than paying the landlord you appear to be a couple still

Is your name specified on the utility bills? insurance? council tax?

I think you're getting too focused on 'how can I stay put and get my benefits back?' when you'd be far better off finding out how you can get out and be independent. Emotionally as well as financially. The Shelter charity is worth a look. If you are deemed to be homeless there is emergency temporary housing.

NachoAddict Tue 14-Jan-14 20:18:11

I would look at homeless hostels in the area if I were you op. Concentrate on setting yourself up on your own and getting your independence. It can't be comfortable living with an ex.

kylesmybaby Tue 14-Jan-14 20:18:43

Who is paying for thing s like the tv license, water rates, council tax ? Could you possibly explain to the lady who has stopped your benefits how desperate you are to work and maybe she can get you an emergency appointment with an employment person there to get things moving quickly. I truly believe there's a job for everyone if they look hard enough. Especially a 21 year old girl. I go cleaning every day not because I want to but because I have to feed my son and pay my bills.

FlippinStuck Tue 14-Jan-14 20:34:36

Thanks for the replies, I will speak to the person tomorrow Kyles and explain that I want to work and see if she can help. I have been looking for a job like crazy but all want experience or for you to drive/own a car, which I can't/don't, or are too far away for me to be able to get to via public transport and still be making any money at the end of it. I looked at apprenticeships aswell but already done 2 business admin ones and I can't do another, seems that 90% of them are all admin..

Water, tv license and all other bills are paid by ex simply because I can't pay them, they are still under both our names though - can you even get them to send it split into 2 different bills for each of us? If they did I wouldn't be able to pay mine anyway which is why he pays confused Council tax has all been paid upfront til March, it is 1 bill addressed to us both but has individual payments for us on it - but again ex has to pay all this as I can't afford. I guess he doesn't 'have to' pay my half of council tax but elec/water/gas etc he does or he can't use them either right? Couldn't I explain that to the benefit person on the phone tomorrow?

I could request for all bills to be split but seems it is a bit late for that now, had left them joint previously because he was paying them all anyway as I had no money to, the only one that could be split is the rent.

1 thing I haven't added because I may sound crazy to some people and which is why I am ideally wanting benefits back whilst living here is that I have a dog who is like my baby. If I moved out it would be 10 times harder to find somewhere who would accept a large dog, and he is also wary of strangers so a room in a house (if finding one who would take us) would not work. I have no friends or family who'd take him and yes I could give him up but he wouldn't be able to rehomed anywhere and I wouldn't want to do that anyway, he's been with me through so much and it might sound crazy but I'd rather live on the streets with him than to 'get rid' of him, I NEED this dog.

Benefits people also know about the dog but obviously to them and I assume most other people, a dog can be seen as expendable if I am desperate for somewhere to live - not to me though. I doubt any charity or emergency housing would let me take him with me either? So I guess in a way I am putting myself in this position, but I just thought surely they can see that we split up and as soon as I got a job where I could afford to rent alone then I would be gone from here, taking my dog and leaving my ex

Tomorrow on the phone I will explain that I never bothered splitting bills as ex paid all anyway and that I have nowhere else to go and will be kicked out if I am not paying the rent to ex... though as someone else said I am not getting my hopes up as I can clearly see it from their point of view sad

Not sure what to do now, wait and see what they say tomorrow is the only thing I can do and if it's still a no I will have to beg my mum but think the chances of her letting me go back there are lower than the chances of getting benefits back!

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 14-Jan-14 20:37:04

Another thought.... you mentioned that he is emotionally abusive and that type of person thrives on control. Once they've got you where they want you, even if the relationship is officially over, they still like pulling your strings, eroding your confidence, keeping you isolated etc. They get a sick kick out of it. So who tells you that you can't walk out on the tenancy agreement and that you have nowhere to go? Him?

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 14-Jan-14 20:40:04

There are plenty of dog-loving homeowners that would be happy to rent you and your dog a room. 'Wary of strangers' I'm sorry, is not a good reason for staying put.

Bottom line is the ex subsidises your lifestyle. While he's doing that, the state is not going to pick up the tab.

FlippinStuck Tue 14-Jan-14 20:53:19

when we first rented this house it took us ages to find one that allowed dogs, and we had to get a 3 bedroom house when we were trying to get 1 bedroom or a flat which would have been cheaper, just cos this allowed dogs whereas others didn't

The 'wary of strangers' is like if anyone tries to talk to my dog or go near him he will try and run/avoid them whilst barking loudly a lot which usually scares people as he's big, if he's living in a house with people he doesn't know and ends up cornered and scared and acts or god forbid does something aggressive, then I don't think the people there are going to be impressed or want us to stay if they aren't big understanding dog people

I'd imagine to find somewhere that would understand him and take us would take quite a while, not like I can just go there asap with no money

It was me who thought that since I signed the tenancy that I couldn't leave as I was partly responsible for the house - what if he trashed it or broke things and blamed it on me while I'm not living there?

As I said I was living with my mum before so not sure how these things work, I had looked at prices for rooms and saw I couldn't afford anywhere so stayed put and claimed, which has backfired on me hasn't it, but according to my adviser then even if I did find a room somewhere I wouldn't get more money from benefits so would still be unable to pay things until I got a job? It would be easier to find a job when I am in this house with all my stuff and computer and internet and knowing where things are locally, not to have everything moved and messed up and have more worry of living with strangers ontop of everything else

I'm going to have to find a job in under 2 weeks before ex gets too pissed and kicks me out if the benefit people aren't going to help anymore

FlippinStuck Tue 14-Jan-14 20:54:35

"Bottom line is the ex subsidises your lifestyle. While he's doing that, the state is not going to pick up the tab."

Thanks Cog this does put it into perspective a lot more and has lessened my anger at them somewhat, still a shitty situation but I can see why they've done it, just wish I had known this earlier before my interview so I could have had time to change things like this

kylesmybaby Wed 15-Jan-14 10:51:07

Good luck on the phone today. It's an awful situation for someone so young. Especially having no family support around you. Hope it works out for you. At least your not burying your head in the sand and are dealing with it now before bf gets fed up of paying for you.

Mumoftwoyoungkids Wed 15-Jan-14 20:28:42

As you are young and own a big dog I am guessing that you are pretty fit. Can you see if you can get a bike off Freecycle as then you'll be able to increase where you can get to for a job plus do your own tesco run. (Obviously you'll have to go more than every 2 weeks but that is good as you can get more bargains that way.)

kylesmybaby Fri 17-Jan-14 11:41:23

Are you ok OP? Any news yet xx

kylesmybaby Fri 17-Jan-14 11:48:32

Great idea about the bike. I have lost so much weight since losing my car and cycling everywhere. So much easier to get anywhere.

ferretyfeet Sun 19-Jan-14 18:59:01

Could you get a living in job with caravan accommodation or small flat just until you get on your feet and where you could take your dog

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