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DWP "Customer Compliance" interview

andysays

Defiantly non-premium member
I've been claiming ESA since last September, and I've just had a letter asking me to come to a Customer Compliance Office Interview next week, bringing various bits of documentary evidence with me.

I've never been asked to do this in the past, so I'm wondering if it's now some sort of normal standard thing, or if there's any reason to be concerned that they have some particular reason for asking me.

Anyone got any knowledge or experience of this?
 

DotCommunist

slowtime
last time I had one it was because I'd been rumbled working while claiming. I never took any money for the job but they hammered me anyway.

have you been doing any unpaid work in the last six months or so?
 

weepiper

Jock under the bed
Par for the course I think. Especially at this time of year the various benefits people do an audit to check everything's legit. I had a Housing Benefit one and a tax credits one last year (I didn't have to go in but I had to send all sorts of paperwork off to them)
 

andysays

Defiantly non-premium member
last time I had one it was because I'd been rumbled working while claiming. I never took any money for the job but they hammered me anyway.

have you been doing any unpaid work in the last six months or so?
No, I haven't.

Do you know how/why you were "rumbled"? Did someone report you, or was there some other reason?

(Feel free to answer by PM if you want ;) )
 

andysays

Defiantly non-premium member
Par for the course I think. Especially at this time of year the various benefits people do an audit to check everything's legit. I had a Housing Benefit one and a tax credits one last year (I didn't have to go in but I had to send all sorts of paperwork off to them)
Yeah, I was wondering if it was something like that.

One possible reason is it's now been about six months, and I think that means it switches from Contributions based to Means Tested - is that right?
 

DotCommunist

slowtime
No, I haven't.

Do you know how/why you were "rumbled"? Did someone report you, or was there some other reason?

(Feel free to answer by PM if you want ;) )
I worked for a cleaning company for 20 hours on the promise of a full time role. When the extra hours didn't materialise I said 'IU can't do this, keep the money cos the dole would just have it off me anyway and we'll forget about it, thanks anyway. You piss taking cunts. 4 months down the line I get called in and given the third degree, sanctioned and told to recoup my losses from the company. Twats to the left of me, twats to the right of me etc
 
could be purely random sampling

could be that due to either a malicious tip-off or a complete balls-up they have got the impression you might be working

that having been said, if you're about to go on to means tested rather than contributions based JSA, then they will need to see proof of savings etc which they would not need to have seen when you first went on to JSA
 

andysays

Defiantly non-premium member
I worked for a cleaning company for 20 hours on the promise of a full time role. When the extra hours didn't materialise I said 'IU can't do this, keep the money cos the dole would just have it off me anyway and we'll forget about it, thanks anyway. You piss taking cunts. 4 months down the line I get called in and given the third degree, sanctioned and told to recoup my losses from the company. Twats to the left of me, twats to the right of me etc
Sorry to hear that. You try to do the right thing, and this is what you get :(
 

andysays

Defiantly non-premium member
could be purely random sampling

could be that due to either a malicious tip-off or a complete balls-up they have got the impression you might be working

that having been said, if you're about to go on to means tested rather than contributions based JSA, then they will need to see proof of savings etc which they would not need to have seen when you first went on to JSA
Yeah. Without wanting to go into too much detail, there is a possibility of a malicious tip-off from someone...

I do (for the first time in my life) have significant savings which might be problematic, and TBH I can't remember if I had to provide proof of them when I first claimed.

I've had to re-provide up-to-date evidence in the past, certainly for HB etc, if not for IB or ESA, but I've never been asked to attend an interview specially - it's that bit which has left me slightly concerned.

Can anyone confirm that the switch from Contributions Based to Means Tested happens at six months?
 
Can anyone confirm that the switch from Contributions Based to Means Tested happens at six months?
yes. more here.

I do (for the first time in my life) have significant savings which might be problematic, and TBH I can't remember if I had to provide proof of them when I first claimed.

I've had to re-provide up-to-date evidence in the past, certainly for HB etc, if not for IB or ESA, but I've never been asked to attend an interview specially - it's that bit which has left me slightly concerned.
You would not normally have needed to provide info about savings etc when you went on to contributions based JSA. You would have needed to provide this for / to the council if you claimed housing benefit / council tax reduction at that time, though.

Depends what you mean by 'significant' - the capital limits appear to be the same as for housing benefit (more here) - under 6K is not an issue, over 16K you'll not get means tested benefits, and anywhere between, some of it will be counted as income.

If you are above one of the thresholds, then I'd suggest getting qualified advice about how quickly is considered 'reasonable' to spend that money, and what on. I'm a bit out of touch with such things, but there is a concept of deliberately depriving yourself of capital in order to claim means tested benefits, which you don't want to fall foul of.
 
As regards the possibility of a malicious complaint, all I can suggest is be prepared for it but try not to panic too much before then in case this is just a routine review / random thing.

They may seek to interview you under caution (under police & criminal evidence act) - I am fairly sure they can't detain you or anything like that, but can probably cut your benefits off until such time as you do talk to them about whatever the allegation is.

If you've not done anything wrong, then (apart from the hassle) you've not got a great deal to worry about - I'd suggest be straight in answering questions, if you can't remember dates (e.g. dates you worked, dates someone moved in / out) off the top of your head, then tell them you really can't remember or that you'd need to go and look at diary / documents or something, rather than end up making a false statement as a result of panic / guesswork.

I would be surprised if they will tell you who has made any allegations. But it may be worth telling them that "If this allegation has come from person X, there is past history of Y and they are doing this maliciously."

It is possible that they might want to do a home visit to make sure you're not co-habiting (if that's what's being alleged) and I think they are entitled to do so.

If you get into the realms of being sanctioned, then first off there is a system of 'hardship payment' (which is like the dole only even less) which you may well be entitled to - they used to tell you this if you got sanctioned off the dole, but I understand they don't now.

And then get someone like CAB involved to assist in challenging any decision.

And you may need to advise housing benefits of a change of circumstances - you can claim HB with a nil income but you'll have to explain why. You don't want HB just to process the "mr andysays has had his JSA stopped from this date" letter and stop your HB and tell you they have overpaid you for however long it takes DWP to send this letter to the right council.
 

andysays

Defiantly non-premium member
yes. more here.

You would not normally have needed to provide info about savings etc when you went on to contributions based JSA. You would have needed to provide this for / to the council if you claimed housing benefit / council tax reduction at that time, though.

Depends what you mean by 'significant' - the capital limits appear to be the same as for housing benefit (more here) - under 6K is not an issue, over 16K you'll not get means tested benefits, and anywhere between, some of it will be counted as income.

If you are above one of the thresholds, then I'd suggest getting qualified advice about how quickly is considered 'reasonable' to spend that money, and what on. I'm a bit out of touch with such things, but there is a concept of deliberately depriving yourself of capital in order to claim means tested benefits, which you don't want to fall foul of.
Thanks for all of that. I'm actually on ESA because I'm currently too sick to work, but I'll have a rumage on that site to find the info that applies to me.

I was intending to use a significant part of my savings (calling it capital is stretching it a bit) to support my daughter when she goes to uni, hopefully avoiding her having to take out a shit load of loans, but that requires that I hang on to it for a while yet.
 

andysays

Defiantly non-premium member
As regards the possibility of a malicious complaint, all I can suggest is be prepared for it but try not to panic too much before then in case this is just a routine review / random thing.

They may seek to interview you under caution (under police & criminal evidence act) - I am fairly sure they can't detain you or anything like that, but can probably cut your benefits off until such time as you do talk to them about whatever the allegation is.

If you've not done anything wrong, then (apart from the hassle) you've not got a great deal to worry about - I'd suggest be straight in answering questions, if you can't remember dates (e.g. dates you worked, dates someone moved in / out) off the top of your head, then tell them you really can't remember or that you'd need to go and look at diary / documents or something, rather than end up making a false statement as a result of panic / guesswork.

I would be surprised if they will tell you who has made any allegations. But it may be worth telling them that "If this allegation has come from person X, there is past history of Y and they are doing this maliciously."

It is possible that they might want to do a home visit to make sure you're not co-habiting (if that's what's being alleged) and I think they are entitled to do so.

If you get into the realms of being sanctioned, then first off there is a system of 'hardship payment' (which is like the dole only even less) which you may well be entitled to - they used to tell you this if you got sanctioned off the dole, but I understand they don't now.

And then get someone like CAB involved to assist in challenging any decision.

And you may need to advise housing benefits of a change of circumstances - you can claim HB with a nil income but you'll have to explain why. You don't want HB just to process the "mr andysays has had his JSA stopped from this date" letter and stop your HB and tell you they have overpaid you for however long it takes DWP to send this letter to the right council.
The only thing which might be problematic is the level of my savings, which it looks like I will need to declare now, but there's no question of having made a false claim, or not providing them with necessary info which would materially affect my position.

If it is a malicious allegation (and it is still only if) then as you say it will be a PITA rather than a question of prosecutions or recovering monies already paid.

Thanks for all your help :)
 

andysays

Defiantly non-premium member
Hmm, according to this

Who can get contributory ESA
To qualify for contributory ESA, you have to have paid enough national insurance contributions. However, this doesn't apply if the DWP converts your Incapacity Benefit or Severe Disablement Allowance into contributory ESA.

If you're entitled to contributory ESA, you may also be entitled to income-related ESA depending on your circumstances.

In some circumstances, you can only get contributory ESA for up to 365 days.
If your contributory ESA stops due to this time limit, you may be able to get:
  • income-related ESA, depending on your circumstances
  • other means-tested benefits, such as housing benefit or council tax benefit, or an increase in these benefits if you are already claiming them
  • national insurance credits if you continue to have limited capability for work. It is important to carry on getting national insurance credits if you can, because they may help you to qualify for other benefits such as state pension, or to get an increase in benefits such as housing benefit, or to requalify for ESA if your condition deteriorates.
The first point at which they mention switching from contributory to mean tested is at 365 days.

I'm going to have to investigate further
 

Paulie Tandoori

shut it you egg!
Contribution-based ESA ceases after 52 weeks for people in the work-related activity group.

if you are on income-based ESA, you will attract tariff income of £1 per £250 block of savings that you have over £6,000, up to maximum limit of £16,000 i.e. your ESA payment should be reduced by £1 for every £250 over £6,000 so if you had £7k, they'd take £4p/w off.

If you have more than £16,000 then you're not entitled, no exceptions I'm afraid.
 

andysays

Defiantly non-premium member
And having investigated further, the DWP themselves say

Contribution-based ESA
Contribution-based ESA lasts 1 year if you’re in the work-related activity group. You may be able to re-apply at least 12 weeks after your contribution-based ESA ends. You may qualify again depending on:
  • National Insurance contributions you paid in different tax years
  • whether your health deteriorates and you’re placed in the support group
There’s no time limit on how long you can claim contribution-based ESA if you’re in the support group.
Well, I haven't yet been assessed to decided if I'm in the support group (still got that to come) but it looks like I've got another six months before there's any danger of being switched to means tested.
 

andysays

Defiantly non-premium member
Contribution-based ESA ceases after 52 weeks for people in the work-related activity group.

if you are on income-based ESA, you will attract tariff income of £1 per £250 block of savings that you have over £6,000, up to maximum limit of £16,000 i.e. your ESA payment should be reduced by £1 for every £250 over £6,000 so if you had £7k, they'd take £4p/w off.

If you have more than £16,000 then you're not entitled, no exceptions I'm afraid.
Thanks for that. I do have more than £16K, so it looks like I have about six months to make other arrangements...
 
Yes, timescales for ESA may be different.

And it's different for support group.

I'd seek advice from CAB about the savings / capital thing. If you dispose of savings in a way that's not considered OK, you're treated as if you still have them.

At one time, things like paying off loans was OK, giving money to friends / family wasn't. But as I say, I am out of touch on such things.
 

geminisnake

a complex mass of conflicting ideas
I reckon they've realised you've got savings. Can you put any of it into a trust for your daughter? I'd go down and speak to CAB or whatever your Welfare Rights people are(some councils have them, not sure if they all do.
 

andysays

Defiantly non-premium member
I reckon they've realised you've got savings. Can you put any of it into a trust for your daughter? I'd go down and speak to CAB or whatever your Welfare Rights people are(some councils have them, not sure if they all do.
Yeah, I think a trip to the CAB is needed, ideally before next week's appointment
 
If you're on contributions based ESA, then savings shouldn't be an issue with that until you reach the one year point.

I'd be inclined to see what the interview is all about, then tackle it from there.
 

andysays

Defiantly non-premium member
If you're on contributions based ESA, then savings shouldn't be an issue with that until you reach the one year point.

I'd be inclined to see what the interview is all about, then tackle it from there.
They have, however, instructed me to bring

Bank Statements for any current accounts, deposit accounts or any bank/building society or Post Office accounts
So if I turn up next week with proof of savings significantly over the £16k mark, and these have mysteriously vanished in six months time, then there might be problems, as you've mentioned above.
 
They have, however, instructed me to bring...

So if I turn up next week with proof of savings significantly over the £16k mark, and these have mysteriously vanished in six months time, then there might be problems, as you've mentioned above.
indeed.

not that i am suggesting for one moment that you might think about doing anything devious, however for the benefit of urban in general, i would point out that the DWP and councils do now have powers to share information with credit rating agencies and the like, so any sort of financial sharp practice is more likely to be discovered.

That having been said, if you're currently on contributions based ESA, and we're correct in the idea that you've got another 6 months contributions based ESA to come, then I'm not sure whether a "sod off and mind your own business" answer might be legitimate.

The other possible explanation for this whole thing is someone's dropped a bollock and assumed you're on JSA and therefore due to go on to means tested benefits after 6 months.
 

andysays

Defiantly non-premium member
...not that i am suggesting for one moment that you might think about doing anything devious...
Obviously not, and if I were, I certainly wouldn't be asking Urban to suggest possible ways of doing so.

...The other possible explanation for this whole thing is someone's dropped a bollock and assumed you're on JSA and therefore due to go on to means tested benefits after 6 months.
Looking again at the letter, it doesn't mention what benefit I'm receiving, but the interview is at a job centre (though not my local one, for some reason).

I'm actually tempted to give them a ring tomorrow and see if I can find out more
 
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