benefit fraud? was i in the wrong?(37 Posts)
hi, first time here so not sure if im posting in the right place.....
(this happened about 5 years ago by the way.)
i was a single parent to my young son and on benefits, including housing benefit. i met a guy and we started dating. he worked full time and lived at his dads house where he paid rent and bills, bought food etc....
after a few weeks he stayed at mine for the night; this became more frequent as time went on obviously. after a few months, he was staying at mine 3/4 nights a week. so he would be at his dads, go to work, back to his dads for a shower etc, then to mine for the night, back to his dads in the morning (he didnt even have a toothbrush at my house) and back to work again. as i said, this happened a few nights a week.
after a year, i was visited by.....the council? i dont remember how it happened exactly, it was so long ago now. i was cautioned on benefit fraud and had a taped interview.
i had absolutely no idea that my boyfriend was classed as living with me if he stayed over more than a certain number of nights a week. especially since he wasnt contributing financially at all-we simply werent that far along in our relationship.
i obviously know the rules now so am aware that i was in the wrong but am wondering whether you think i should get abuse for this? (which i recently have done over on another mum site.) i dont think so, as i simply had no idea.....it didnt make sense to me to be honest, as he clearly wasnt living with me in my mind. at my house he had: a jacket, his shoes, his phone, wallet, car keys and clothes on his back-but only when he came over. when he wasnt there, there wasnt anything of his there.
so to put it simply, he had ALL of his stuff at his dads house, he paid blah blah at his dads house, he slept at his dads house around half of the time (his dad should have reduced his bills for that!), he worked 40 hours a week so we couldnt see each other during the day so he would stay over a few times a week, he had no possessions at my house, he didnt pay towards rent, bills etc at my house, we never even went on a date or day trip etc so none of his money ever went on us at all......i seriously didnt realize that this could possibly be seen as living together. it just never crossed my mind.
once we found out the rules etc, we made sure he didnt stay over as often and we actually moved in together properly about 6 months after being cautioned etc.
anyway, just wondering your point of view on the situation. should i get verbally abused, be called a benefit cheat and get told that (apparently) i knew exactly what i was doing so am a nasty, thieving piece of work? or can it be accepted that it was a regrettable mistake and i dont deserve to get bashed about the head for it?
thoughts? opinions? thank you
Sounds genuine, the benefit people can be overzealous when given an easy target.
What a horrible situation altogether for someone who is trying to do the right thing.
If this was treated as fraud, then you were wrongly cautioned. It doesn't matter how many nights someone stays over - that is an urban myth. Just think about it - there are plenty of couples where one partner spends few or even no nights at home in a given week - if they're in the forces for eg they can be away for months at a time, but they're still a partner. What counts as to whether someone is a partner are things like if they have liabilities (eg bill accounts) in their name at your address, if your finances are tied, if they have moved their possessions into your home - stuff like that. From what you are saying, you didn't commit fraud and you shouldn't have been cautioned. Or did you just mean that you had an interview under caution because that is different.
You wouldn't be classed as living together under those circumstances. Being interviewed under caution (which I assume is what happened) is not the same as a police caution www.advicenow.org.uk/articles/what-interview-under-caution
I think it should be based on what contribution someone makes. Now whether they have their head on your pillow.
I don't care a lot about benefit fraud anyway. Give me business tax-avoiders to hate any day...
As a Benefit Fraud Investigator. I should say that on the information you have given, a Decision Maker would not find you Living together as husband and wife. The more correct wording is Maintaining a Common Household, which clearly you were not.
It is a myth that a claimant can have their 'partner' stay over a certain number of nights and not be maintaining a Common Household. After all, if that were the case, anyone with a partner who is a long-distance lorry driver for example, could claim as a single person because their partner only stayed over two nights a week.
i was cautioned, found 'guilty' (the only proof of my guilt was him staying over, they didnt look into anything else as far as im aware, but even if they did, there was no proof to find) and told to pay back a certain amount for the past year that he had been staying over. i did tell them that he didnt contribute financially, they could easily have asked his dad or looked through his post etc to see where he was really living. i was simply told that he stayed over more than 3 nights a week and that is fraud, end of.
i dont remember what i was told to pay back-i dont think it was the whole years housing benefit as i would clearly remember that. but surely if they classed him as living with me and he worked full time so could afford the rent, they would have asked for the whole years money back?
anyway, they must have asked for a portion of it and since i was certain that we werent doing anything wrong, i managed to convince them that he had only been staying over a few nights for 3 weeks, so paid back a much smaller amount. maybe they accepted this as they couldnt prove he was living with me? or because him staying over a certain amount of nights a week didnt class as us living together? i was young and not clued up on the rules but knew we werent living together so didnt feel at all okay to pay back what they were asking.
maybe the number of nights thing is a myth but they certainly didnt see it that way!
thank you all for your input here, especially exleodensian.
its so difficult in situations like this, when you know the circumstances inside out and know the truth of what happened, yet people are calling you all sorts. so hard to be positive. you end up thinking they are right after all and you are everything they said, and worse!
so thank you for restoring my faith in common sense and nice people! i feel a little better now!
LilyLuna: please read exleodension's post. She is a Benefit Fraud Investigator.
Why do you need to assess the opinions of people on the Internet over something that happened five years ago?
I think you sound genuine too. It was a mistake....don't share it any more.Lilly how is ignorance not an excuse? she didn't know he could not stay more than x nights....he wasn't paying anything towards rent...it was a relationship not a marriage!
Exleo gosh I need to tell my neighbour that her partner cannot stay the night then! She's under the impression that he can stay up to 2 nights per week....he doesn't generally...it's more like once a month or twice...is that allowed?
The house did you read the post properly? It's not about numbers of nights staying it's about sharing a home. An army wife/husband whose spouse is on a tour of duty doesn't become a single parent for benefit purposes during that period. And a single parent whose partner lives elsewhere but stays over doesn't become part of a shared household.
Ehric yes I did the OP said her partner was staying there regularly but not contributing at all...he was just sleeping there. I can see how some people might think that is allowed.
My initial reaction is that you made a genuine mistake. After reading exleodensian's post I'll change that opinion to thinking you did nothing wrong. Either way, I don't have a problem with your behaviour and certainly don't think you deserved to be called a benefits cheat.
I do have a problem with real benefits cheats eg people who claim to be unfit for work and then get caught doing physically demanding cash in hand jobs.
And even they don't make me as angry as the rich tax dodging companies who've stolen loads of my money.
I don't mind my taxes going to people who need it and you were obviously in that category.
He stayed over 3/4 nights a week (despite you "not being far along in your relationship") and never took a shower or brushed his teeth at your place?
*we never even went on a date or day trip etc*- So he came over just to have sex with you 4 nights a week? Did you cook for him?
You sound very accommodating.
Sounds like you were wrongly cautioned to me.
To be cautioned you have to admit guilt. However lots of people wrongly accept this (without legal advice) to avoid further hassle.
And then everything exleo said about "maintaining a common household".
You didn't do anything wrong op and I Really wouldn't worry about sometihing that happened five years ago. A similar thing happened to me a few years ago the only time in my life I had to claim benefits as I was going through a bad patch. I am fortunate that I do not have to claim now and I hope I never have to again it was such a degrading experience when the compliance lady was asking me all sorts.
I had the same , he was staying two nights a week. Someone cane out and said that was fine
whether you think i should get abuse for this?
Your conviction etc aside, as it's irrelevant, you shouldn't 'get abuse' for anything - that's the thing about abuse!
Just to gather opinion. my sister's partner stays every single night with her. he has no other address. he has a toothbrush and all his possessions there. he does all the diy, eats every meal there. He clearly lives there. She denies this as he pays NOTHING towards bills therefore she claims tax credits and hb as a single person. I claim he is a cock lodger. Who is right?
Oh just seen your original q in the title. Yes you were obviously wrong, as you broke the rules, and were found to be living together. He wasn't making any financial contribution because your benefits were paying for everything, but he should have been.
operaha - Clearly living together, AND he is a cocklodger.
operaha with my Housing Benefit assessor hat on, your sister is definitely maintaining a common household with her DP, and she should report this change straight away, before someone else does it for her. Without my Housing Benefit assessor hat on, he is a cocklodger and your sister is being taken for a mug.
smadams11 you should not have been cautioned as you were absolutely not living with your DP. Unfortunately, you can't appeal against a decision made five years ago, unless there was a mistake of law made. I would advise you to speak to the CAB or a local welfare rights organisation to see whether you can still appeal.
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