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Help with my benefits interview please :-)

(6 Posts)
JJsMumma Mon 01-Jun-09 12:13:37

Hi, please can someone help me with my interview which is coming up on Wednesday, the letter says there is a query with my claim for income support (I also claim Housing Benefit and Council Tax benefit and get tax credits for my little boy, am a single mother). I rang up the office to find out where they were and also to ask what the query was, they said it was just a routine appointment to check everything is ok with my benefits and that nothing has changed in my circumstances.

Nothing has changed in my circumstances, I haven't worked since I made my claim for IS back in October, but the only thing that has changed for me personally is that I am now seeing someone. He doesn't stay over, he has his own place, we don't 'share' money, he doesn't contribute in any way to my household, my bills or food, and certainly not to my child. I know obviously that I would have to declare to all the departments if I moved in with someone, but my question is at the interview on Wednesday do I have to actually say that I'm seeing someone if the relationship does not break any of the rules? Quite frankly as far as I'm concerned as long as I am not breaking any of the rules or the laws of benefits, I don't feel that it is any of their business if I am seeing someone or not, and I don't want to unduly draw attention to myself, but some people have told me I should say something. I have been through so much in the past year with splitting up from my abusive husband and moving into my little flat with my lovely little boy, I've been trying so hard to build my life up again and the last thing I need just when I'm getting enough confidence back to being enjoying life again is some nosy benefits officer asking me questions about seeing someone, and any possible investigation into our relationship. Also the person I'm seeing has just gone through hell too so I don't want anything scaring him off!

What happens if I just say I'm in a relationship but not living with him, do they leave it at that or do they start rooting around? Would I be commiting some kind of fraud if I said I wasn't in a relationship? Surely its not being in a relationship that is breaking the rules, its living together, which is never going to happen! I've done some research online but it seems a very cloudy area and I'm worried and scared now!

All advice gratefully received!

whatdoyouallthink Mon 01-Jun-09 12:19:02

No real advice as I dont know either but, when I went to the jobcentre for my 1st interview to process my claim for IS I was told that I would be asked to go back in around 6 months for another interview just to check my circumstances. Sounds like its a similar thing with you, was it not mentioned at your original interview?

JJsMumma Mon 01-Jun-09 12:24:27

Hi, I had a work focus interview at the job centre a couple of months ago where they checked through everything and gave me illustrations on what my income would be if I got a job etc, but this interview is a 'customer compliance interview' and is held at a different office, where they also do the fraud interviews, so my first thought on getting the letter was that someone had reported me for seeing my new boyfriend, possibly either of our exes. When I phoned up they said it was just a general review but if so this seems a little pointless given that I only had an interview a few months ago....

amisuchabadmummy Mon 01-Jun-09 12:33:25

its not of their concern unless boyfriend is contributing financially to the household. this means paying bills, mortgage etc. or if you are living together.

i am in the same situation and have never mentioned my boyfriend. and ive never been asked.

they are legally obliged to see you every 6 months but generally all they do is say when you need to be legally looking for work, which is based on the age of your youngest child (think its 7 from 2010). there is no pressure to find work and if your circumstances have not changed i think you'll probably be in and out in 5 minutes.

mention it if you want, but i personally wouldnt bother. you arent breaking any rules.

JJsMumma Mon 01-Jun-09 12:43:15

Thanks, its good to hear from someone in the same situation. The letter is just so nastily worded, the only thing that is keeping me going is thinking that I haven't had similar letters from the tax credits or housing benefit. I just hate the thought of someone prying into my life like this, and possibly scaring the poor man off when I've just got my life together. I dont think they should be allowed to send such letters without giving any detail. I don't think I will bother to say anything as if its going to get to the point were you can't even have a relationship with someone without breaking some kind of rules and being in trouble then that is pretty awful! To my mind it really isn't any of their business and I know that might sound harsh to others who have to work to pay my benefits, but I never ever thought I'd be in this situation, ever, and am grateful for what I get and what I have and am not looking for trouble, I just wanted to make sure of the exact rules as everything seems so cloudy.

amisuchabadmummy Mon 01-Jun-09 13:14:40

wait til you get a letter from the compliance offer like i did the other month. i completely freaked out, it made it sound like they were investigating me for fraud from the letter (although i know i havent done anything even remotely contravening rules)... it turned out to be just a routine check where your NI number is drawn out by the computer.

you can have a relationship but obviously when it gets to the stage of living together or him financially contributing then he will be taken into account with regard to your benefits.

good luck... it will be fine, honest.

and actually ive found the lone parent advisors really, really helpful. they were really enthusiastic and helpful about me going back to college last year and when i went last week they gave me loads of help and information and contacts to help me set up my own business once i finish college in a few weeks.

they've told me about money i'll be entitled to (eg help with childcare) that i didnt even know existed too !

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