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Notification of visit from Customer Compliance Officer re: benefits!

(16 Posts)
Mobly Mon 13-Jun-11 15:46:06

OK that was probably the lease informative title ever but I'm in a bit of a flummox really.

I have been on benefits since Jan 21st when X upped and left for the last time. I'm on IS as have 3yr old and 19mth old so unable to work and cover bills/mortgage at present.

I have just received the letter informing me that a query has arisen on my claim. I'm assuming this is not just a run of the mill letter but that someone has perhaps accused me of benefit fraud?

XP lives with his mum and as they have a big dog, not much space, and smoke I let XP see the boys here alot. Probably not the wisest move but short term this is what we do.

He does not financially contribute to my household is any way shape or form BUT he has transferred the odd £20 into my bank when I have paid for a present for one of his family members and he has paid me back (I'm good friends with XPs cousin and our children play together).

Sometimes he has stayed overnight, especially recently as I have had Shingles on my face and my 3yr old chicken pox so he's been helping out but on the sofa.

The other thing I'm panicking about is selling a few things on Ebay recently. I am so skint so I put some things on there and have made about a £100 but it's not exactly profit is it when you're selling personal possessions that you have previously paid more for?

I don't know, I hadn't ought to be worried really but I'm a worrier by nature- what do you think? Am I just panicking over nothing. IMO the 'rules' are very vague anyway.

NotSuchASmugMarriedNow Mon 13-Jun-11 19:35:16

where is he registered to pay council tax?

I'm pretty sure you're ok for Ebay. Provided you are selling your old belongings and not buying stuff to sell on at ebay.

mollymole Mon 13-Jun-11 19:41:13

you must admit it looks pretty dodgy
he has paid money into your bank account
and
he has stayed overnight and is at your place ' a lot'
i hope you can provide receipts/proof of the gifts you bought & have a very good reason for why he could not buy them himself and that you have medical proof of the illnesses that needed him to stay over and help
you should be fine with the E Bay

baabaapinksheep Mon 13-Jun-11 19:55:53

Don't think the money he transfers into your account will be a problem as child maintenance does not have to be declared as income.

The Ebay stuff should be ok as well, nothing wrong with selling your old possessions.

This has most likely come up because he has been seen staying over at your house, which implies that you are in fact together. You may need to ensure that he does not come there anymore, so maybe you could meet somewhere else for him to see the DC.

I wouldn't worry though, when they see that none of his belongings are there and if you stop him coming round so much it will be obvious that he doesn't live there.

PinkCarBlueCar Mon 13-Jun-11 20:09:53

The odd £20 here and there could be seen as him paying maintenance, but I doubt maintenance of such a low amount will affect your IS - it certainly wouldn't affect your Housing Benefit, but that's not who's visiting.

Where someone lives is rather more complex than where they are registered for council tax, although obviously that helps. An overnight here and there won't make any difference, and neither would a week or two if you were ill and thus needed his help to care for the kids.

Do you have more than or close to £6k in savings of any kind?

Your ebay earnings - like you said, you're selling stuff you previously bought, so again, unless you're making significant amounts, they're not going to be interested.

I'd say it's anything between a tip-off, a discrepancy in the background that's actually a mistake, or a routine check.

TBH, just answer their questions honestly. Try to have your latest bank statements and award letters to hand for the visit. From what you've said, it sounds like you've got nothing to worry about smile

Mobly Mon 13-Jun-11 21:15:13

Thank you everyone. It's a little reassuring.

He pays maintenance vis CSA already. I do have receipts/proof of me buying a present and he ref'd the payment with 'birthday' because this sort of thing is always at the back of my mind already having seen threads on here.

Proof of illnesses too it will be on mine and DCs medical records if it needs checking. Surely it's OK for a father to help his child's mother?

Mollymot he is at my place alot because he is the father to my children and he sees them alot. Admittedly he needs to get his own place as the situation is far from ideal. He does not finacially contribute. He lives with his mum so doesn't pay council tax. His bills go there, his wage slips etc.

It's a difficult thing to prove though isn't it? Everyone knows we have split up. He works alot of evenings and all those he goes back to his mums as boys are already in bed so pointless him coming round. It's just when he's not at work he will almost always pop round to see boys and help with bedtimes.

I pay everything in my house- it's obvious from my bank statements. My current account is really overdrawn hence the ebay.

Pinkcarbluecar, yes I have savings close to 6k- inherited and some of it saved, not sure what to do with it yet (was thinking of the boys' future). I'm pretty certain IS are aware of this as it was stated on one of their forms I filled in.

There is nothing of his in my home- if he leaves the odd coat I bag it up for him to take as I hate having his clutter around and it's a really small terrace (second reason for selling things on Ebay).

Should I call the Customer Compliance Office tomorrow and find out what the 'query' is do you think?

PinkCarBlueCar Mon 13-Jun-11 21:35:36

Ah, I suspect it's the between the amount of time he's there (and possible wagging tongues) and the nearly £6k of savings, then.

There's no point in phoning them - they won't tell you anything till they rock up.

Living together is difficult to prove, but if they have any real evidence, then you'll be called in for an interview under caution.

BTW - £6k wouldn't stop you getting IS, it would just start to affect the amount of IS (and HB) you get. My advice would be to keep it noticeably under £6k, iyswim.

Like I said, just answer their questions as openly and honestly as you can. There's every chance someone somewhere has had a fat finger attack and as a reault there's some duff info on a computer that's created this situation - ie nothing to worry about.

And yes, if you have a good civil relationship with your ex, then it's not a problem for him to help look after the kids while you're ill.

HTH

sjsd Mon 13-Jun-11 21:56:49

i had the same thing happen to me a few week ago i tried calling to see if the "query" could be resolved over the phone

the lady that came out was realy nice and told me i had been reported for having my partner living with me while i was claiming i/s as a single mum

after she had said this i knew instantley who had reported me my exp's mother as she has previously reported me for h/b fraud and to social services for neglect to the kiddies

i answered all her questions honestly and in full, she also told me that there wasnt a set amount of nights my partner could stop and i was to use my own judgement as to when we could be could be classed as living together

Mobly Tue 14-Jun-11 07:40:58

Thank you pinkcarbluecar and sjsd, you've really put my mind at rest. It is tempting to phone but I'll leave it if they won't tell me anything.

angrywoman Tue 14-Jun-11 19:59:44

sjsd, that is interesting. I have a partner who lives elsewhere but stays over a couple of nights a week. I asked a friend in the same situation and she seemed to think that 3 nights a week max was acceptable, but not more (I guess that would be more than half the time). Sounds like you had that rare thing, someone with sense, to visit! It is very difficult, I think, to decide to live together with a new partner when you have children from a previous relationship. Benefits should respect the fact that this has to be handled carefully and not make us feel under suspicion/ attack (I too was threatened by the ex's mother on this subject) for being rightfully cautious about living with a new partner. But also, obviously, you and your children have to get to know him and vice versa, so we have to spend enough time together before making the big move.

sjsd Tue 14-Jun-11 21:34:57

i had to have an interview under caution with housing benefit due to the same malicous report.. the guy told me the same that it was down to our own judgement as to when we would be classed as living together, i metioned that i had been told he could stop 3/4nights but he told me the same as the lady from the dss that there were no rules to follow... the interview under caution was weird, i was asked why we dont live together, why doesnt he stop every night, what kind of relationship we had, what time does he come over what time does he leave, do i think we will live together, if yes when lots of questions, i said the same as you above that i had 2kiddies to think and im not the type of person to move just anyone in and that my partner was privatly renting a house so why would he be living at me and paying rent and bills on a house that he didnt live in,,, if your ex mother does report you my sol sent mine a letter warning her that she was harrassing me and if she continued we would take it futher

PinkCarBlueCar Tue 14-Jun-11 22:49:39

3 nights a week. Yes, I've heard that a few times, and benefits investigators have heard it countless times.

When you think about it, being "in a relationship" is about far more than how often someone stays the night, whether or not you have sex, where your post goes, where you're registered for council tax etc, where you eat, who you shop with, where you do your laundry, etc, etc, etc. Although all those things might well be a part of being (or not being) in a relationship.

And that's why there's no hard and fast rules to follow - it's more about balance of probabilities, hence all the questions sjsd was asked.

PinkCarBlueCar Tue 14-Jun-11 22:51:53

d'oh.

"living together" and "being in a relationship" is about....

TheHumanCatapult Thu 16-Jun-11 14:32:08

just be aware even one night they can then count that you are a couple and not a single parent.

But Op in your case i would not worry just explain .xh when saw the kids was always at my house as he could not cope without me being around .And infact he stayed at my house when i was in hospital way way back .You have records that you was ill so do not worry

Mobly Thu 30-Jun-11 12:39:59

Update! The compliance officer just left, he was quite nice actually. It turned out to be just a standard visit to make sure my ex and I hadn't reconciled.

I did tell him that XP has boys here and stayed over a few nights while I was ill and boys had chicken pox. He said that it was inadvisable as they could deem that as being a couple and stop my benefits.

He just said that in future to always inform Income Support beforehand if XP stays over as then whatever happens I won't get done for benefit fraud BUT it is better to get another babysitter.

I cannot wait to be off benefits.

Thank you all so much for reassurance and advice- it really helped.

PinkCarBlueCar Thu 30-Jun-11 18:40:57

Glad to hear it all went well smile

Thanks for the update smile

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