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The effect of a Malicious Benefit Fraud Report

Pebbles2008Pebbles2008 Member Posts: 2 Listener
edited November 2019 in Universal Credit
I was recently reported as fraudulently claiming benefits as a single person and faced a terrifying Compliance call with a Universal Credit Officer. 
Thankfully they were satisfied with the arrangements myself and my partner have and that we fully intend to make a claim as a couple once we move in together. We live seperately due to not being able to share a room as my Fibromyalgia affects my sleep and my partner works shifts. I rely on him alot for support, especially in recent months due to problems with my flat and antisocial behaviour so he has been staying more but sleeping on the living room floor. 

We don't have shared finances and circumstances beyond our control have forced us to spend more time together for my safety and his peice of mind. We are exhausted and depressed but have finally found a house to move in too after numerous humiliating conversations with landlords who refuse to let to UC tenants or Housing Associations who don't agree to the additional bedroom rules for disabled people. This false accusation has drained any excitement we had for finally finding a place we can live together comfortably. 

I feel so angry that the DWP can persecute a person based on an anonymous report. It has had a real impact on my mental health, causing anxiety and fear. What if this person decides to report me again once they realise there was no action the first time? What if they are waiting for my partner not to be here at night so they can break in or do something horrible? 

Threats have been made in the past by neighbours, what if this is part of a plan to do harm? I will forever feel like I'm being watched and doubted. How can there be no consequences for the person telling the lies and wasting resources by triggering an investigation?! It's appalling that medical evidence isn't sufficient to prove entitlement to benefits and we are forced year in year out to justify and evidence conditions that don't change; That people who are already struggling are forced to jump through hoops for proper housing and benefits; That the DWP and Housing Associations can make up their own rules about who gets what and that this varies depending on the aims of their business or a personal judgement, not the needs of the person in front of them. 

Health, Housing and the DWP don't work together but all expect something from each other when dealing with claims. To justify an additional bedroom for health reasons one HA asked for a letter from a GP or Consultant stating an additional room is required. When I asked a GP and Consultant they said they could only state symptoms and not comment on the effects of them at home or work. It's impossible! It would appear that just because you claim benefits and need social housing you no longer have the right to privacy; to decide how you live your life; manage your relationship or decide how your disability affects you.

 Since the call on monday I have felt afraid to talk to people, to leave the house or even rely on my partner in case I'm breaking DWP rules. I lay in bed in my flat wide awake all night last night because I feel exposed and vulnerable and afraid someone will break in but had I asked my partner to stay I would be breaching benefit rules. Rules that are so ambiguous it's impossible to live within them and can only be decided based on the personal opinion of how many nights is too many by the DWP Advisor. It's crackers! I've recently returned to work for 6 hours a week but I feel afraid that this might trigger a capability assessment and I'll be forced to do more. 

The agenda is to get disabled people in to meaningful work they can manage but the stress and hassle of actually doing it is enough to prevent them trying. The DWP discourages people from living their best life despite their limitations using a system of fear, punishment and financial hardship which makes moving forward so difficult it is not worth striving for more. It feels like the welfare and housing systems are exempt from the laws of Equality, Diversity and Human Rights and that they can condemn and discriminate at will against vulnerable people with absolutely no consequences :( 

I'd really like to hear from people with similar experiences and how they found the courage to keep going as I'm rapidly losing faith in my ability to have a good life despite my health :( 

Replies

  • Sam_AlumniSam_Alumni Scope alumni Posts: 7,729 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi @Pebbles2008
    I am sorry to read you have had such a tough time and I can understand that dealing with a false accusation has put so much pressure and stress onto you.

    When you say threats have been made against you, have you reported these?

    This has obviously really effected you, would it help to speak to your GP about supporting your emotional health right now?
    Scope
    Senior online community officer
  • Pebbles2008Pebbles2008 Member Posts: 2 Listener
    Hi Sam, thanks for your response :) I'm due to see my GP on Monday for my mental health. I'm waiting for therapy at the moment. I have reported the threats, I think this is why the false accusation was made. To frighten me in to silence  Thankfully I will be leaving here in 2 weeks time and will regain some of my privacy. I just feel like the welfare system is against people like me and because NHS care is limited for Back Pain and Fibro I'll never get back to a state of health where I don't have to rely on it. It makes me feel powerless :(
  • mikehughescqmikehughescq Member Posts: 6,665 Disability Gamechanger
    The way people feel when they are subject to an investigation around their benefit claim is obviously going to vary depending on their own physical or mental health; their previous experiences and so on. That said, few people are going to view it as a positive experience even if the final outcome is positive. 

    I think the thing to hold onto here is that in fact the system works. It would be a very odd state of affairs if people couldn’t report suspected fraud or something they think looks or sounds wrong and obviously, to some extent, anonymity is required to enable people to do that without intimidation. Similarly, DWP decision makers have to be given discretion else decisions would repeatedly be made that make no sense. It doesn’t mean the system is ambiguous or loaded against you. I

    In your case, an anonymous concern was raised. It was looked at quickly and resolved to your satisfaction quickly and, from the sound of it, correctly. You’ll never know who raised the concern but, from experience, it’s rarely who you think it is and there’s a whole heap of time and energy to be wasted thinking about such things. You can’t change this now. It’s happened BUT it has worked out. Moreover, the stats suggest that few people who raise concerns which result in a positive outcome for the claimant will raise a further issue. They themselves actually become disillusioned with the process of raising a concern. Unfortunate but quite funny if you think about it in those terms. Often, they end up more disillusioned with “the system” than the person they complained about. A lack of understanding about how the benefits system works is one of the biggest reason issues get raised which ultimately go nowhere. 

    So, it’s very unlikely this will happen again but, if such a thing were to ever happen again, it’s worth bearing in mind that there are lots of advice agencies out there who can advise and support. https://advicelocal.uk/ is far from 100% reliable but it’s the best current tool there is. 
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