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benefits screw up

(15 Posts)
crazykat Thu 01-Nov-12 22:21:32

Hi i'm wondering if anyone could help me, apologies if it's long.

My mum is disabled to such an extent she cannot work due to a mix of the disability and the number of hospital appointments she needs. Up until 18 months ago, my dad was unemployed and recieved carers allowence for looking after my mum. When my dad was finally successful in getting a job, my mum phoned HMRC and also wrote to them advising them that now my dad was working, they didn't want to continue claiming carers allowence as my dad earned too much to qualify.

However, neither of my parents realised that they were still being paid the carers allowence as it was paid with my mum's DLA payment and as my dad had started work they no longer qualified for housing and council tax benefits. There were also further health problems regarding my mum around this time and even more since then.

Now my dad has received a letter to attend an interview with regards to this. It was a genuine mistake on my parents part and now my mum is very worried that my dad could end up with a custodial sentence and/or criminal record. Also, my parents don't have a lot of spare money and although my mum know it will all have to be paid back, she's wprried HMRC will want it all at once or high repayment.

Does anyone have any idea what is likely to happen WRT repayments and possible custodial sentence and/or criminal record?

Any advice would be very much appreciated.

IneedAsockamnesty Thu 01-Nov-12 22:29:33

tell him to take a solisiter to the interview.

an honest mistake will not result in anything major he shouldnt worry. but he will need someone to advocate on him and make sure its explained that it was an honest mistake

BrassMonk Thu 01-Nov-12 22:56:36

Might be worth a trip to citizens advice. From experience helping people in similar situations, they will definetely be asked to repay it, but the repayment scheme is usually negotiable. It will probably depend on how much your dad is earning as to how much they ask per month in repayments.

crazykat Fri 02-Nov-12 10:08:37

Thanks for the replies, we hadn't thought about my dad taking someone with him.

I'll mention citizens advice to my parents, hopefully they'll be able to help.

My dad works 20 hours per week on min wage which is partly why my mum's so worried about repayments but knowing that it could be negoiable will help.

ZillionChocolate Fri 02-Nov-12 10:21:03

DLA and carer's allowance come from the DWP rather than HMRC. It would be helpful if they could evidence making that phone call. Can you get them to check their phone bills? It's important that they take any supporting documents with them.

I would also see if they can take a solicitor to the interview.

It is likely that they will be expected to repay the money they shouldn't have had. See if they can work out a repayment plan.

nextphase Fri 02-Nov-12 10:33:51

And has your Mum got a copy of the letter she sent? Would give a date.

Hope this all gets sorted, sounds horrible.

crazykat Fri 02-Nov-12 11:01:01

Yes she's got a copy of the letter she wrote and hopefully she's still got phone bills from then if not she's going to see if BT can send her another copy.

They know it will have to be repaid it's how quickly that's causing the worry and also the possibility of a prison sentence. I'm hoping that DWP will see that it was a mistake on my parents part and not press charges.

IneedAsockamnesty Fri 02-Nov-12 11:46:44

even people who do go to great lenghts to commit proper benefit fraud rarely go to prison.

its quite obvious from what youve said that its a innocent mistake.

dla would not be effected at all by any body working. if ca was paid at the same time into the same account and they genuinely didnt realise it was a different benefit. it would be a fairly easy mistake for a person who wasnt used to dealing with that sort of thing to make.

incidently it may be worth checking there housing benefit entitlement. if your dad is not earning much due to the additional disallowed income he may very well still be entitled

he would have additional ammounts disregarded ontop of his inwork disregard because of your mums disability.

alemci Fri 02-Nov-12 11:52:17

Hope it gets sorted out crazycat. advice on here is very good. I am sure your parents have nothing to worry about. could they speak to their MP if they still have problems.

CollieEyeOfNewt Sat 03-Nov-12 22:51:16

There will not be a prison sentence for a minor mistake such as this. The overpayment will be repaid, but negotiate the rate of repayment. Argue the case if DWP ask for huge weekly amounts - they will accept lower payments. And as someone has already said, if your Dad is working 20 hrs pw at NMW then he may well still qualify for Housing & Council Tax benefit on grounds of low income. Contact your council to find out.

I work in this sector.

lisad123 Sat 03-Nov-12 22:59:04

He can still earn while on carers, a total of about £100 a week after tax, IN and other expenses. If his only working 20 hours he is only earning £123 a week so may well still be entitled to carers.

IneedAsockamnesty Sat 03-Nov-12 23:46:26

they will also allow you to disregard some pension payments as well so if he does pay one chances are hes still entitled to recive ca.

lisad123 Sat 03-Nov-12 23:58:51

They also consider petrol to and from work smile sounds like he might be fine. Good luck

gallicgirl Sun 04-Nov-12 00:04:16

If you can show that you notified the DWP correctly of the change in circumstances, then argue you shouldn't have to repay anything as it was the DWPs fault for not acting on the notification.

Definitely no prison sentence so please tell your mum to stop worrying about that! I've known of people with fraud overpayments of £50 000 upwards get a suspended sentence/community service rather than a custodial sentence.

crazykat Wed 07-Nov-12 12:10:19

Thanks for all the advice and reassurance. The interview's tomorrow so I'm hoping it goes well, or as well as it can.

I've given my parents the advice you have all given and told them to ask for a low repayment.

Collie they weren't entitled to housing benefit as my dad gets an army pension which counts as earned income so he pays higher rate tax on as it's classed as a second job - I could write a whole other thread on that.

lisad IIRC he earns something like £5 a week too much to still be entitled to carers allowence.

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