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mikehughescqmikehughescq Member Posts: 6,644 Disability Gamechanger
edited March 4 in Coffee lounge
I very rarely start new threads but tonight we have the extraordinary and unprecedented step of a detailed, informative and mostly excellent post from a relatively new poster @tomatosoz being removed and a thread being closed down “to avoid any escalation over night whilst staff aren't around, and to allow for a review of the thread content.” The poster has now been deleted and so has the post although they expressed the hope it would not be. 

No mention of this new policy when we’re advised of new plans for forum coverage by mods. No explanation as to why this specific thread might escalate. All threads might escalate. On that basis it makes more sense to close the whole forum down overnight if escalation is actually the thing you want to avoid. Dearie me. 

I had written a detailed response to that last post but when I posted the page refreshed as closed and all my text was lost. It would not have been offensive; certainly wouldn’t have escalated anything and would likely have caught preceding posters off guard as I very much doubt it would have been the response they would anticipate. Nothing to the point but worth saying. The point remains that we enter dangerous new territory if the stated reason for the closure of the thread is the actual reason and as with others here I fear my time is coming to an end. It just isn’t realistic to run a forum on this basis. 

Feel free to respond. I’m not necessarily looking for a reaction. I didn’t expect to have the need to say anything on this but there we go. 

Replies

  • woodbinewoodbine Community Co-Production Group Posts: 4,534 Disability Gamechanger
    Personally Mike although we don't always agree I think you would be a great loss should you leave, your specialist knowledge is invaluable and would be greatly missed.
    "Putting a child into care, isn't caring for a child" (T.Rhattigan)
  • Adrian_ScopeAdrian_Scope Testing team Posts: 8,007

    Scope community team

    I very rarely start new threads but tonight we have the extraordinary and unprecedented step of a detailed, informative and mostly excellent post from a relatively new poster @tomatosoz being removed and a thread being closed down “to avoid any escalation over night whilst staff aren't around, and to allow for a review of the thread content.” The poster has now been deleted and so has the post although they expressed the hope it would not be. 
    Good evening @mikehughescq, I agree this would be unprecedented and that still remains the case. 
    With the exception of obvious breaches of our guidelines, posts and accounts are usually only removed at the request of the poster, which was the case here.

    Community Manager
    Scope
  • mikehughescqmikehughescq Member Posts: 6,644 Disability Gamechanger
    @woodbine I’ve already seriously stepped it down in recent weeks. Thanks for the kind words but I’m not looking for pleas to stay or to make this about me. I just think things are now way out of hand on too many fronts and not being treated as such. My intent would be to now step back further. 

    Comments noted @Adrian_Scope so presumably said poster had a change of heart having explicitly posted that they hoped to not have their post deleted? Shame. They’d Their latest post had real value and as @Ross_Scope had earlier and rightly posted my comments were aimed at the presence of DWP staff in general. 

    I guess there was a hint of what was to come when they flounced over my daring to challenge their advice. 
  • lisathomas50lisathomas50 Posts: 4,363 Disability Gamechanger
    As you said Mike any thread can escalate over night  I am glad I  don't comment on benefits I would say it as it is  the poster did get lost in it all I won't give my opinion about the thread and the reason the original poster required help  but sometimes it's for the best when a thread closes  😉
  • mikehughescqmikehughescq Member Posts: 6,644 Disability Gamechanger
    Resurrecting this as it seems the appropriate place. 

    Genuinely concerned to see that the thread on Inheritance and Universal Credit has been closed down. I wonder if any of the mods team understands the difference between fraud and deprivation of capital? Clearly all contributors to the thread bar @Jean Eveleigh did not.

    The scenario described in the opening post is firstly several questions and secondly clearly from someone anxious about their finances and uncomfortable with what they see as an inventive but also possibly the only solution. Had I spotted both the initial assertion of fraud in the next post; the use of words like "cheat" and the response from @Tori_Scope which says "Welcome to the community @Jacczi. As Janer1967 has said, this would be benefits fraud as it's deprivation of capital. You can read about that on the Entitledto website." I would have suggested that all concerned ought to have been reported. The mention of prison sentences and criminal records fall into that category as well. 

    The handling of this is absolutely astonishing. Let me walk you through step by step how it ought to have played out.

    1 - you cannot just come off UC. There needs to be grounds for supersession to end the claim. Legally you cannot just end a claim. I'm sure if you were to ask then DWP would do exactly that, as they have for years for many other benefits, but legally they cannot. 

    2 - morals don't come into social security. If they did we would likely not have the benefit cap, sanctions and UC deductions. There is no moral element to be considered here. Better to think in terms of whether the suggestion can be done and what the impact would be. 

    3 - you can move your capital where you want and when you want. That in itself has no element of fraud. It is your capital and clearly the motive to keep it for your needs is understandable. However, this would be a clear cut case of deprivation of capital. That is because when you move the capital the sole reason for doing so would appear to be in order to gain benefit. For the deprivation rules to apply your purpose for moving/using capital must simply be a "significant operative purpose" i.e. getting UC (in this case) must have been one of the reasons for doing so. Clearly that is the case.

    4 - would DWP find out? Yes, when you reclaim UC the question about capital would be asked. If you say you have none then that is accurate at that point. However, DWP look at capital around the time of the claim so you would be asked to show bank statements etc. If you fail to show the movement of your money or fail to show a statement from the account in question i.e. pretending it does not exist then, yes, that is clearly potential fraud. However, it is not for anyone here suggest the consequences of that. Not all cases of fraud are prosecuted and usually the threat is enough to get people to drop their benefit claim or face overpayment recovery plus administrative penalties. Both will effectively reduce your income or your capital so going down this route is clearly not a winning strategy and not what you were intending. 

    Additional to the above, DWP trawl forums like this. It is a public forum. Declaring your intent on a public forum even under a pseudonym does not make it especially hard to figure out who you are and where you are. Asking a question like this on a public forum, whilst understandable to some extent, is not the brightest idea you ever had. 

    5 - the other factor not mentioned is that if your friend is on benefits then the capital may have an impact on them as it will likely be hard to separate from their other capital. As the money will also likely be in their name you also place yourself in an incredibly vulnerable position because they could simply keep the money and force you into a legal action for recovery you would likely struggle to afford.

    6 - the advice to pursue a discretionary trust was excellent advice but lost in the midst of misinformed hysteria from all concerned. Having a discretionary trust guarantees that the capital is disregarded. It also means trustees would need to be appointed and this could be done in such a way as to ensure that do not allow you to misuse the money etc. 

    7 - the statement from @Tori_Scope that "this would be benefits fraud as it's deprivation of capital." is not accurate. This would be benefit fraud because of a failure to disclose/misrepresentation. Deprivation simply does not equal fraud in the overwhelming majority of cases. Most deprivation cases end with just that. The deprivation rules get applied. 

    So, deprivation? Yes, definitely. Fraud? Yes but... Discoverable? Undoubtedly. Likely to lead to a fraud prosecution? Not really predictable. Doesn't in most cases but there would still be a sanction. Now, go get some advice about discretionary trusts. 

    Shame on those who leapt in on a first post from a new poster in this manner. I am embarrassed for you all.   
  • Jean EveleighJean Eveleigh Member Posts: 134 Pioneering
    Thank you @mikehughescq

    When I saw the e-mail notification for this thread in my inbox I was very worried about what was being said after the last few days and how the threads I have participated in have progressed.

    I try to be very considered when I post and to offer direct helpful advice that answers or at least tries to the question of the original poster but more and more often I am feeling discouraged from contributing on the forums due to the negativity and nastiness that is allowed to occur and deleting a post wholesale with the lack of explanation that generally follows insinuates that all contributors to that post are at fault.

    I am also finding and have been for the past two or three years people commenting without even bothering to read the opening post - such as when I made a post and linked a video I made on youtube for people to watch for extra info and being asked:- Was consent given for the above video to be posted for example?  

    I am finding more and more that this (and to be fair most public forums) is not a safe inclusive helpful place to be.
  • janer1967janer1967 Member Posts: 11,205 Disability Gamechanger
    @mikehughescq I don't recall mentioning deprivation of capital I may be wrong but it's not something I know about so not likely to have said it 

    We all have our opinions and are open to voice them it's not only your opinion that counts 

    Yes you have far more knowledge than most 

    The way the post came across to me was the op finding a way to hide the inheritance in order to still claim benefits 

    They even said themselves they knew it was probably not the best thing to do 
  • mikehughescqmikehughescq Member Posts: 6,644 Disability Gamechanger
    Your exact words @janer1967 were 

    “What you are suggesting is fraud and I would not recommend. It's not fair to claim benefits If you are not entitled to do so and have finance to support yourself”.

    I’m appalled you would try to portray this as being about “opinions”. This is about facts. It is a fact that the OP had a suggestion and asked a question about it. Literally their first post. What a welcome. It is not my opinion that deprivation does not automatically equal fraud. It is demonstrable legal fact. It’s also a fact that people piling in about fraud could hardly have been less helpful when the real and simple answer is potentially discretionary trust.

    Add in a mod making a plainly untrue assertion and frankly I’m quite comfortable saying I’m embarrassed for all concerned. That it went to review and still came out as a closed thread is just shocking. Badly handled from start to end by all. Quite happy to defend any statement I’ve made. 
  • Adrian_ScopeAdrian_Scope Testing team Posts: 8,007

    Scope community team

    Thank you for your feedback @mikehughescq, although the shaming of members who gave their thoughts on the thread is not welcome nor appropriate. 
    Our response could have done with more detail and I have edited Tori's reply for clarification. 
    We still stand behind the decision to close the thread for reasons I can't disclose here but we have reached out to the member in question offering more support.

    If you'd like me to add your comments and support to the thread please let me know and I'll copy them over.
    Community Manager
    Scope
  • janer1967janer1967 Member Posts: 11,205 Disability Gamechanger
    @mikehughescq you don't need to defend anything you said and neither do I 

    I agree to a point it wasn't the best welcome from me but it is something I am passionate about when you read of so many people fighting to get every penny they deserve and others try to claim when they have resources to support themselves 

    Anyway I won't get into an argument with you so will bow out 
  • woodbinewoodbine Community Co-Production Group Posts: 4,534 Disability Gamechanger
    I agree with @janer1967 I stand by everything I said on the thread in question, personally i was in a position last year where my capital stopped me claiming a number of means tested benefits after an inheritance, it never for a nano second crossed my mind to do anything other than inform the DWP the day the money hit our account and we lost around £200 in benefits per week.
    It always hits a nerve when I see people post on forums about how they can avoid disclosing something like that.
    But I don't wish to get into an argument on this or anything else so I'm out of this one.
    "Putting a child into care, isn't caring for a child" (T.Rhattigan)
  • mikehughescqmikehughescq Member Posts: 6,644 Disability Gamechanger
    edited July 8
    Deeply resent the accusation of shaming @Adrian_Scope. Wholly inappropriate response which effectively tries to publicly shame me. Somewhat ironic. 

    Had the thread remained open I would have simply reported the posts in question. It’s weird how Scope staff single me out on that one when, if other posters report and then tell everyone they have reported as usually happens, nothing is said. What I wonder is the exact difference there? 

    Let’s also be clear, my comments were aimed at the posts. Find me an example where they’re not. Sure I mentioned one poster but I was also posting a quote from said poster so not exactly avoidable and I was very clear in challenging the quoted words as inaccurate which, as you’ve agreed, they were.

    Fully appreciate there was likely more to it than meets the eye but, assuming others on the thread were also unaware of that, the other responses remain inappropriate.
    janer1967 said:
    you read of so many people fighting to get every penny they deserve and others try to claim when they have resources to support themselves 
    I read “specialist things I need” as meaning capital for help to support the consequences of disability. Not really having enough resources at all. Thus why a discretionary trust would likely be a good thing to explore. A fairly standard setup for someone in that position.
    woodbine said:
    it never for a nano second crossed my mind to do anything other than inform the DWP the day the money hit our account and we lost around £200 in benefits per week.

    It always hits a nerve when I see people post on forums about how they can avoid disclosing something like that.
    My response here would be that perhaps it ought to have. People assume all capital counts immediately. Simply not true.

    It may well hit a nerve but in this instance a question was being asked. There was no declaration of “I’m going to do this”. Had there been then I’d have been in like a shot too.
  • Adrian_ScopeAdrian_Scope Testing team Posts: 8,007

    Scope community team

    @mikehughescq, I'm sorry you felt my response to be inappropriate and can only apologise for any offence caused. My comment regarding shaming was in relation to this:
    Shame on those who leapt in on a first post from a new poster in this manner. I am embarrassed for you all.   
    Just a note:
    Had the thread remained open I would have simply reported the posts in question. It’s weird how Scope staff single me out on that one when, if other posters report and then tell everyone they have reported as usually happens, nothing is said. What I wonder is the exact difference there? 
    I want to reassure that posts can still be reported even when a thread is closed.
    I'm not entirely sure I've understood the second part of this quote but I'm happy to discuss it further.
    Community Manager
    Scope
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