Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
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I have made a huge mistake and i'm so scared

Butterflyhome77Butterflyhome77 Member Posts: 7 Listener
I got a letter for a Review Appointment with DWP, I mistakenly thought that it was another medical which led to an acute mental break.  I rang the Citizens Advice and they explained that it's just routine and nothing to worry about, then they went through some checks with me to show me the kind of info they would require, they told me that I shouldn't have savings over £6000 and I realised that I have made a huge mistake! I didn't know that I had to tell them about savings, i've been on benefits for so long and i've never been asked for bank statements etc in the last 8 years.  I have saved £10,000 due to not being able to leave my house (mental illness).  I honestly didn't know, i've never done anything wrong before and now i'm so afraid that they are going to put me in jail.

I have an appointment with the Advocacy Service tomorrow but do I need a solicitor?  My mental health is so badly affected and i've had the Crisis Team and valium prescribed.

I am not coping and going through this alone is so scary.  Has anyone else every made a mistake like this?  I understand now that I owe them money and I will give them it all back but will they put me in jail?  Can anyone help me?


  • poppy123456poppy123456 Member Posts: 22,218 Disability Gamechanger

    You need to check if you're claiming Contributions based or Income Related ESA first. Contributions based ESA isn't means tested and won't be affected by any savings.

    Did you move from Incapacity benefit to ESA?

    Do you claim housing benefit and council tax reduction? The savings rule applies to those as well.
    Proud winner of the 2019 empowering others award. This award was given for supporting disabled people and their families for the benefit advice I have given to members here on the community.
  • mikehughescqmikehughescq Member Posts: 6,660 Disability Gamechanger
    Relax. At this stage all that matters is that you check what you’re currently getting and whether it even impacts. Even if it does it’s only recoverable where there’s been a failure to disclose or misrepresentation of a material fact. That’s not as easy as you would think for DWP to prove. 

    At this stage you just need good face to face advice. No need for a solicitor whatsoever. 
  • Butterflyhome77Butterflyhome77 Member Posts: 7 Listener
    Hi yest it impacts my ESA, Housing Benefit and Council Tax.  I've been trying to get through to the DWP all morning with no luck so far, i'll try again after 1pm.  I saved the money because I didn't think i'd be able to survive another medical, I would never have done it if I had known I wasn't allowed. The advisory service were really blase about the whole thing, saying that I haven't gone over the threshold so worse case scenario i'll owe DWP etc lots of money which of course i'll pay them back.
  • mikehughescqmikehughescq Member Posts: 6,660 Disability Gamechanger
    Why do you think you need to ring the DWP? At this stage you need to be doing everything based on face to face advice; put responses in writing only and keep a copy of everything. No more no less.

    Hold your horses as regards paying anything back. See my post above. They might ask but it’s only recoverable if there’s a misrepresentation or a failure to disclose. DWP have to prove it’s recoverable rather than you prove that it isn’t. Paying it back voluntarily is leaping way ahead and may be wholly unnecessary. 

    As I said earlier you need face to face advice. Try your local law centre, local authority welfare rights service, independent advice centre etc.
  • Butterflyhome77Butterflyhome77 Member Posts: 7 Listener
    Thank you.  
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