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when is a partner a partner - compliance checks

(7 Posts)
jannyson Wed 22-Jun-11 13:44:13

Hi,

Dilemma - for some years I have been a single parent to 2 children aged 7 and 9. I work part time (£19000 income after tax) and rely on child tax credits to do this and pay my childcare costs of c.£6900 per year. I don't get WTC.

Two years ago I met a very nice man - we had talked since Xmas last year about the possibility of taking our relationship to the next stage and moving in together. This would be a big step as we are both protective of our own space and I am obviously protective of my children, particularly regarding my difficult former relationship.

The solution, we decided, was to dip our toes in the water. I decided in May to rent a larger house, both so that we could spend more time together and as the children are getting older and need more space anyway. As this was partly to facilitate the development of our relationship my boyfriend decided it would be fair to contribute to the household costs. I pay all the rent and gas, and obviously all food, as always. However, he pays £50 per month into my bank account to help with the larger rent bill; the electric is in his name, and also phone/sky/broadband together with TV licence - I never had these before but he thought it would be nice for the kids, so in a way that’s a gift. Again, those are in his name and registered to my house.

I have recently received a TC compliance letter asking for bank statements, presumably due to my change of address. I am very concerned that the fact that my boyfriend is making these contributions (for reasons that we think are sensible) will be taken as evidence that we are 'partners' in terms of having a joint household - although this is NOT the case.

Since I wasn't thinking in terms of moving in with him full time I didn't do any checks regarding income changes - I've just done these and realized that ALL my entitlements would go, including childcare allowance that allows me to work for my own living. I honestly think it's absolutely unjustifiable, having read some of the other threads on this subject, that just because I happen to have met and formed a loving relationship with someone (and both of us have been through the mill in this respect ), that they would then become liable for MY childcare. Even if he could afford it that would force me to become financially dependent on someone in a way that I find very worrying.

That I should have checked all these details is a point well taken thanks. If I had been intending to defraud the state I would have done this a lot more carefully. I have never committed fraud, have never been in debt, and have always tried to pay my own way in life.

My questions then:

1. What will constitute ‘fraud’ and have I committed it? If they suspect fraud what will they do? Call the utilities / tv licence to find out names associated with the address? Spy on us? Ask both sets of neighbours for information? How could I prove we are not fully living together?

2. What constitutes a ‘partner’? My boyfriend stays over with me about 4 nights in the week, but our households are still separate.

To anticipate your questions I’ve transferred the electric back to me, but will be charged £120 to transfer the phone etc, so would rather leave it. The children’s father pays a small amount of maintenance a week which amounts to about 30% of childcare costs – this helps with general child related outgoings.

At the moment I’ve very unhappy about all of this because I believe there is a genuine moral dilemma here. What’s the solution?

Please understand that if I had to do without childcare I would make every effort to do so. But I absolutely think it is wrong for me to rely on this man for financial support and it seems from where I’m standing that we can’t develop our relationship further.

Sorry to be so long winded but it’s complicated!

Many thanks in advance for your help.

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 22-Jun-11 14:46:00

I think this link to DirectGov might help. It outlines whether to make joint or separate claims if you are not married, or in a civil partnership. It gives some examples and I think this one would be closest to your description

You've got a new partner - an example of a joint claim

Gail and Barry have been going out for a while and he now spends most of his time at Gail’s house, he eats meals with her and they socialise together. He helps with DIY and sometimes gives her money towards the food. Most weeks he returns to his mum's for a night to pick up his post and see his family and friends.

Gail and Barry should make a joint claim."

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 22-Jun-11 14:51:21

I should add that I don't think where you are now constitutes 'fraud' and I don't think your situation is exactly like the example above. However, I do think you should look into it further... maybe CAB would be useful... because you are definitely stretching the boundaries of 'single person household' if he spends most of the week at your house.

madmadhouse Wed 22-Jun-11 19:04:00

One for the things that the compliance officer looks for, is if your partner contributes to the household costs.They do this by checking if you are having any extra income from a partner, and if any bills to your address are in his name.Also while there is no set amount of nights you can have a partner stay,they count you has a couple when you spend most of your free time together.
You have said ''he pays £50 per month into my bank account to help with the larger rent bill,the electric is in his name, and also phone/sky/broadband together with TV licence''.
So not only is he helping you financially but household bills are in his name.These two things link you has a couple.Any benefits you claim i.e. child tax credits should be a joint claim.
I don't think changing his name on bills now will help to be honest.Your bank statement will also show the money he pays you each month.
Sorry if that isn't what you wanted to hear.

RockChick1984 Thu 23-Jun-11 23:55:30

Don't look at it as him becoming liable for your childcare. Presumably if you were living together full time your share of the household bills would go down so you could use this extra towards your childcare? If he is spending more than half the week with you and contributing to your household bills I'm almost certain you will need to be making a joint claim.

petalsfalling Fri 24-Jun-11 00:47:02

There is some detailed notes here on how DWP assess 'living together as husband and wife'. Tax credits are administered by HMRC so aren't covered by these exact rules, but the principles are broadly similar. Basically, if your living arrangements could be reasonably viewed as being like a married couple, then they will regard you as if you are. Many married couples have one partner living/working away for part of the week, so just because he isn't staying at yours every night will not be enough. Their view is that if the relationship is serious enough that he is staying there and contributing to the household, then they need to assess the household as one unit. Otherwise, couples with one high earner could simply claim that they're not really a couple and the lower earner could get tax credits that way.

Wamster Fri 24-Jun-11 08:45:38

Well from what I've read of the notes provided by petalsfalling, you have to be members of the same household to be classed as living together. Not my words, but the dwp's.
Get yourself to CAB for unbiased help.

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