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The effect of a Malicious Benefit Fraud Report

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Pebbles2008
Pebbles2008 Community member Posts: 2 Listener
edited November 2019 in Universal Credit (UC)
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 :( 

Comments

  • Sam_Alumni
    Sam_Alumni Scope alumni Posts: 7,665 Disability Gamechanger
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    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
  • Pebbles2008
    Pebbles2008 Community member Posts: 2 Listener
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    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 :(
  • Mrsp14
    Mrsp14 Community member Posts: 1 Listener
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    I feel your pain and anxiety. We've recently been reported twice for benefit fraud.

    The 2nd coming recently in an anonymous report saying we travel the country in a mobility car all the time to do our hobby. In reality we don't do our hobby every week or every month due to be being disabled with spinal problems and fibromyalgia.
    It's been maybe 6 months or more and we only went out twice last year which was months apart. We're taking somewhere accessible and for no longer than 3 hours as that's my limit. It has to be late afternoon as it takes me all day to be able to move. 

     You understand better than anyone what trying to live with pain is like.  Never mind the medication we take. I'm on morphine plus many others which has an effect.

    But what hurts is I can't do 98% of stuff in this world and the things I can do are limited enough to only places that are accessible. So my life is small enough and now I feel I can't even go and do the one thing I can do and enjoy, even though that one thing takes me weeks or months to get over. 

    I feel conscious now like I'm being watched and I've got high anxiety with this after i was followed my 3 men years ago while I was alone. It scared me so much that I rang the police who even played my 999 call to the Investigators telling them it's unacceptable to do that to anyone.

    But now my worry is the horrible person that's reporting us, they have no understanding how hard life is living with pain 24hrs a day or three impact of their actions and that they will do it again. 

    After all should they suspend my benefits what I'm I supposed to do? be magically better and go to work for 40hrs a week?  I feel trapped in my life and completely powerless that my money could be stopped because of someone's ignorance. How can someone make malicious claims and not be in trouble for wasting time and money? 

    The best of it is I don't know what the average person thinks but living on benefits certainly doesn't give you the life style or financial means to travel up and down the country. 

    I feel for you I really do and totally understand how your feeling. Personally I already feel useless enough in my life without having this added on top.

    The last call the Investigator shut the call off as a malicious report but she did say if there's another report they may contact us again.

    Which I'm expecting to be honest when this person sees nothings been done. (well I'm not sure what their expecting tbh as it's not like they see me running around or skiing. They have cameras at the front or back they can see how I am)
     we know exactly who it is after my accident my world got smaller and we have only a handful of friends that we trust as their from childhood and understand how I am and have seen it first hand.

    The Investigator mentioned us going to the police and reporting harassment but if I'm totally honest I don't have the strengh or the mental health to fight. I'd rather stay at home and never leave again. 

    Lots of hugs to you x
  • anisty
    anisty Community member Posts: 354 Pioneering
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    I haven't had it happen to me but i totally get the stress as, many years ago, i was invited to take part in surveys about child tax credits. I felt i had to agree as if i opted out, it would look suspect.


    What i didn't realise was that, by opting in, i had to face an interrogation every year by someone from dwp visiting me in person and asking what i spent the money on, whilst casting an eye around my home!!

    Later this was replaced with an annual telephone survey with questions like " do you realise it's an offence to claim benefits fraudulently?"

    "Do you know anyone claiming fraudulently?"


    And "what do you think should happen to people who make fraudulent claims?!!!!!!"


    Eventually, after about 8 yrs of this, i wrote to them to stop my participation and never heard from them again.

    It was that simple.


    Remember, whoever dobbed you in might not have been doing it maliciously. They genuinely might have been doing their civic duty to protect taxpayers' money. Every year, many fraudsters are caught by such anonymous callers.

    You were doing nothing wrong and had nothing to hide. But the real frauds do need caught and money recouped so that genuine claimants can continue to be paid.

    Take care and try to settle and put this behind you.
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