Tricky Situation - Advice and Opinions Sought

CaroleBaskin

Well-known Member
The number of fraudulent claims are tiny compared to what they thought they were going to find. Very low single figures %.
Do you have a source for this? Thanks

Thats really interesting, if they (government department) class it as fraud do they not see things through with a conviction? Or is it a kind of unsaid thing that it’s ‘fraud’ but so long as money is paid back nobody will ever know it?
These types of situations are classed by DWP as fraud, even if they are genuine mistakes and the claimants have to pay the money back.
 

spudtator

Well-known Member
Do you have a source for this? Thanks

Thats really interesting, if they (government department) class it as fraud do they not see things through with a conviction? Or is it a kind of unsaid thing that it’s ‘fraud’ but so long as money is paid back nobody will ever know it?

I can't point you to a source, but checking these claims is my job, so it's from personal experience and from what management were expecting when we started doing the checks.
It would only be claims that were pretty obviously trying to deceive that would be passed to the fraud department to investigate. E.g. claiming housing costs or support for a child and the claimant couldn't/wouldn't provide any evidence to back it up.
 

leamspaceman

Distinguished Member
the money lost to fraud in the benefit system is still huge.
How much is it exactly? And what amount quantifies huge?

There's also a 'huge' amount of money that doesn't get claimed because it's all so complicated for many.

Years ago when I was a support worker, almost everybody I supported claimed or were entitled to benefits. Many weren't getting everything they were able to claim.

There's things like disabled persons railcards, CEA cards that allow a carer to accompany someone to the cinema for free, warm home discounts... countless other things. And you have to apply separately for ALL of them. You have to apply for a disabled parking badge and be assessed AGAIN in order to get one, despite already having been assessed by the DWP.

It can't be beyond the realms of possibility that, once the government, via the DWP, awards benefit to a claimant that you receive some kind of card that automatically gives you all these things... you could just link it to websites or produce it when paying for things in person.

There's something called an 'access card' that you can apply for. Again, you have to send proof of disabilities so you're effectively being assessed again. Then you can link that card or produce it when necessary. It's a 'disability passport' of sorts. But it's not a DWP or government initiative and it relies on companies and services accepting it as evidence.

But... the government don't want to make it easy for disabled people. The whole system is set-up to make people give up. You really have to be switched on and know what you're doing to claim disability benefits, which is ironic as many people who can claim these benefits aren't.

I've come across many people who would be able to successfully apply for benefits. But then they see the form... and give up. Some complete the form but are faced with resistance when attempting to get supporting information... and give up. Some get supporting information, but then have an assessment where a 'health professional' discounts or usurps a GP or specialists opinion... and give up. That 'health professional' could be a podiatrist assessing someone with complex mental health needs. There's a difference between treating hard skin on people's heels to assessing their mental health. Some people fail the assessment... and give up. Some people fail a mandatory reconsideration... and give up. Some people fail an appeal... and give up because the next step is a tribunal.

Anyway, this thread has become more about benefits in general rather than directly advising the OP what to do. It's a road well travelled on these forums and there's never full agreement.

Where is the OP anyway?
 
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Let me guess

Well-known Member
How much is it exactly? And what amount quantifies huge?

There's also a 'huge' amount of money that doesn't get claimed because it's all so complicated for many.

Years ago when I was a support worker, almost everybody I supported claimed or were entitled to benefits. Many weren't getting everything they were able to claim.

There's things like disabled persons railcards, CEA cards that allow a carer to accompany someone to the cinema for free, warm home discounts... countless other things. And you have to apply separately for ALL of them. You have to apply for a disabled parking badge and be assessed AGAIN in order to get one, despite already having been assessed by the DWP.

It can't be beyond the realms of possibility that, once the government, via the DWP, awards benefit to a claimant that you receive some kind of card that automatically gives you all these things... you could just link it to websites or produce it when paying for things in person.

There's something called an 'access card' that you can apply for. Again, you have to send proof of disabilities so you're effectively being assessed again. Then you can link that card or produce it when necessary. It's a 'disability passport' of sorts. But it's not a DWP or government initiative and it relies on companies and services accepting it as evidence.

But... the government don't want to make it easy for disabled people. The whole system is set-up to make people give up. You really have to be switched on and know what you're doing to claim disability benefits, which is ironic as many people who can claim these benefits aren't.

I've come across many people who would be able to successfully apply for benefits. But then they see the form... and give up. Some complete the form but are faced with resistance when attempting to get supporting information... and give up. Some get supporting information, but then have an assessment where a 'health professional' discounts or usurps a GP or specialists opinion... and give up. That 'health professional' could be a podiatrist assessing someone with complex mental health needs. There's a difference between treating hard skin on people's heels to assessing their mental health. Some people fail the assessment... and give up. Some people fail a mandatory reconsideration... and give up. Some people fail an appeal... and give up because the next step is a tribunal.

Anyway, this thread has become more about benefits in general rather than directly advising the OP what to do. It's a road well travelled on these forums and there's never full agreement.

Where is the OP anyway?
Probably been on hold to the DWP for a few days...😁
 

Yorkshire toffee

Well-known Member
@leamspaceman you're so spot on with your analysis on this claiming different benefits. When I came out of Hospital fortunately I already had a disabled bus pass done for me on Hospital, but claiming pip wasn't a nice experience over 40 questions. Without the help from my support workers and Social workers I wouldn't of applied. Yet when I got my score I was double the amount of points you needed to qualify.
They're must be thousands of people who've just given up due to how complex the Benefit system is and like you rightly said a lot of these people have disabilities that prevent them going through a long form.
You would like to think in this day and age things would be more simple. Sadly that's not the case
 

leamspaceman

Distinguished Member

Derek S-H

Distinguished Member
Sorry Derek, how do you think that my perception? Its not my perception, that is the reality. You stated the individual does not gain in housing benefit fraud when I have clearly shown that they do in certain (most) circumstances - or have I got that wrong?
Lakielady said her quota of people she has seen where they were not entitled to the money they were getting was very low, but of course it would be, who in there right mind fiddling the system would go and see a welfare benefit officer to complain they were not getting enough benefit!

Although, as you rightly state, it is very difficult now (well, I would argue 'more' difficult rather that 'very' difficult), the money lost to fraud in the benefit system is still huge.
You made a number of claims in your previous post without providing any supporting evidence whatsoever.

You also described various forms of claimant behaviour and their fraudulent outcomes without, again, actually providing any evidence that these actually take place.

How much money is actually lost due to fraud? Please provide this "huge" figure.

Meanwhile, in an alternative universe, I would refer you to my Post #123 for an example of fraudulent behaviour that's been established but will never be accounted for, and that we will all be responsible for paying back.
 

LakieLady

Well-known Member
It's no good me looking at my neighbour who's got 2 working arms and 2 working legs and stating that he's a lazy layabout - how do I know he's not got some terrible bone wasting disease? The truth is, I don't.

And of course, those with mental health issues, learning disabilities and autistic spectrum disorders are easily identifiable. You can tell just by looking at them, can't you? 😉
 

Yorkshire toffee

Well-known Member
And of course, those with mental health issues, learning disabilities and autistic spectrum disorders are easily identifiable. You can tell just by looking at them, can't you? 😉
I get this all the time, " you look okay to me" how's someone with schizophrenia supposed to look like? Attacking someone with a knife I suppose, because they watched them do it in a movie
 

Boo Radley75

Well-known Member
And of course, those with mental health issues, learning disabilities and autistic spectrum disorders are easily identifiable. You can tell just by looking at them, can't you? 😉
I'd be a millionaire if I got a quid for every time someone said "but you seem normal!" in response to finding out I'm autistic.
 

Iancity

Active Member
You made a number of claims in your previous post without providing any supporting evidence whatsoever.

You also described various forms of claimant behaviour and their fraudulent outcomes without, again, actually providing any evidence that these actually take place.

How much money is actually lost due to fraud? Please provide this "huge" figure.

Meanwhile, in an alternative universe, I would refer you to my Post #123 for an example of fraudulent behaviour that's been established but will never be accounted for, and that we will all be responsible for paying back.
Hi Derek, you want me to provide evidence? you dont think those things that I describe take place? really !
If it pleases you, I have been the investigating officer in charge for every single one of those examples - all real life examples from my little area of the world.
I was merely correcting you when you said housing benefit fraud is not committed by individuals but wealthy landlords...it most certainly is committed by individuals.
How much money is actually lost - well the Govt state "
The DWP claim that fraudulent benefit claims amounted to around £900 million in 2019–20." How near that is to the actual figure I have no idea, but, in 25 years as a fraud officer I dont think I have ever, ever been so busy that I am now.
The other fraud you mention, Govt contracts etc I have no experience/expertise in and do not work in that area so would not wish to comment on.
 

LakieLady

Well-known Member
? Not sure where you are coming from here...the claimant who forges there tenancy agreement to show £450 a month instead of £400..individual gains...the claimant who does not declare they are working...the individual gains ....the claimant who does not report other benefits...the individual gains...the claimant who does not report a partner living with them...the individual gains...the claimant who does not report their true capital...the individual gains... and so on and so on...

Most of the examples you've given come to light To take your last example first, significant holdings of capital tend to come to light now, as the banks report interest payments to HMRC because interest is taxed at source, and HMRC share data with DWP.

Not reporting earned income is only possible for the self-employed nowadays, thanks to RTI and data sharing between HMRC and DWP.

Fraud committed by overstating rent went up in 20/21, because DWP suspended checks of tenancy agreements because of Covid. In normal years, they are checked physically by JCP staff, and a forged agreement would have to be pretty convincing to satisfy such checks (they are now doing these checks again, and will be asking claimants who haven't yet been asked to produce proof of rental liability to do so). In any event, as the amount paid towards rent by DWP or HB is capped at the average of the bottom 30% of private rents in any given area, the amounts overpaid because of fraud are likely to be small, especially in the SE, where it's getting very hard to find rented property where the rent is below the level of the cap. (Having said that, there was a case fairly recently where a criminal group had committed massive benefit fraud, which came to light when a bank clerk noticed massive amounts of money from DWP being paid into an account).

Cohabitation cases happen, for sure, but it's hard to gauge the extent, and the legal test of what constitutes cohabitation is quite woolly. I've only ever been involved in 4 cohabitation appeals, and in each one, the DWP or local authority has been found to be wrong. And I've never had someone ask for assistance in a cohabitation case where I've had to tell them that I won't be able to act because I think the DWP are right.

Fraud because of failure to disclose other benefits is something I've never come across and I suspect it's because the DWP systems automatically reject claims for one benefit when a benefit that should not be claimed at the same time is in payment. Under legacy benefits, you certainly couldn't get ESA or income support if JSA was in payment, for example. And under UC, it's definitely not possible.

Unfortunately, the DWP figures don't seem to differentiate between fraud and overpayment arising because of an error, so it's not possible to tell the extent of fraud alone.

But some while ago, the New Statesman carried a piece that argued quite effectively that someone would be 9 times more likely to be prosecuted for benefit fraud than for tax fraud. That's worth thinking about.
 

LakieLady

Well-known Member
Sorry Derek, how do you think that my perception? Its not my perception, that is the reality. You stated the individual does not gain in housing benefit fraud when I have clearly shown that they do in certain (most) circumstances - or have I got that wrong?
Lakielady said her quota of people she has seen where they were not entitled to the money they were getting was very low, but of course it would be, who in there right mind fiddling the system would go and see a welfare benefit officer to complain they were not getting enough benefit!

Although, as you rightly state, it is very difficult now (well, I would argue 'more' difficult rather that 'very' difficult), the money lost to fraud in the benefit system is still huge.


Actually, @lancity, my current caseload is almost entirely people who are keen to get back to work but who are afraid they may be worse off because they can only work part-time because of health issues. A small minority seek advice when their benefits stop or go down. And very few come because "they're not getting enough".

But when they come for one issue, I always check and see if they're getting everything they're entitled to, and remarkably often, I find they're not.
 

Iancity

Active Member
Good post Lakie. You are right, most of those examples do eventually come to light, through technology or just good investigation/interview practices. The use of RTI in UC will have dramatically cut the amount of fraud in earning cases, as we simply always find out - it does not take into account the cash in hand jobs though, of which there are many, and the UC system simply asks people to be honest and declare what they have earned when they are paid cash in hand only - asking people to be honest is not a foolproof system to stop fraud !
Living together is still the big one, and it can be quite subjective, as you say, the legal side of cohabitation is certainly not clear to claimants. All I would say is that the people who are fraudulently living together, and get found out, do not go to their local welfare benefit officer and appeal against it.
 
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LakieLady

Well-known Member
I can't point you to a source, but checking these claims is my job, so it's from personal experience and from what management were expecting when we started doing the checks.
It would only be claims that were pretty obviously trying to deceive that would be passed to the fraud department to investigate. E.g. claiming housing costs or support for a child and the claimant couldn't/wouldn't provide any evidence to back it up.

Under tax credits, you could only claim for a child if you were getting child benefit for them, and to do that, you had to produce their birth certificate. What evidence does UC require before including a child in a claim?
 

Iancity

Active Member
Same, must be in receipt of CHB. UC case mangers will digitally check the CHb system to see if it is in payment. However, when all these new claims came in when COVID started people were very quick to pick up on the fact UC were not doing the checks - blatantly claiming for children Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck etc, I remember one child called "just give me the money"
 

LakieLady

Well-known Member
The rent side of it is an ongoing issue. You have completely untrained JCP staff checking tenancy agreements - before HB fraud transferred to DWP, those Tenancy agreements were checked by trained Hb fraud staff. I come across many examples of forged T/A that the JCP staff have let through - they are just not trained in spotting stuff, and are under pressure to clear their to-do's etc that lots of things get missed

They're not trained in the regs around housing costs at all imo. I've had numerous cases where someone under 35 has been told they're still only entitled to the shared accommodation rate of LHA even after they've been awarded PIP. HB staff really knew all this stuff.

There's something rather satisfying about winning an appeal simply by quoting the number of the relevant regulation and the corresponding paragraph from decision makers' guidance, but it shouldn't be necessary and the anxiety for the claimant, who's terrified of ending up homeless because they're in rent arrears, is heartbreaking. It's led to at least one suicide attempt.
 

CaroleBaskin

Well-known Member
They're not trained in the regs around housing costs at all imo. I've had numerous cases where someone under 35 has been told they're still only entitled to the shared accommodation rate of LHA even after they've been awarded PIP. HB staff really knew all this stuff.

There's something rather satisfying about winning an appeal simply by quoting the number of the relevant regulation and the corresponding paragraph from decision makers' guidance, but it shouldn't be necessary and the anxiety for the claimant, who's terrified of ending up homeless because they're in rent arrears, is heartbreaking. It's led to at least one suicide attempt.
It worries me that the management have a complicit approach to reconsiderations. They clearly know what is likely to win or lose at tribunal, yet clearly flawed decisions are enforced in the hope a claimant backs down and they don’t ask the decision maker to change it.
 

Derek S-H

Distinguished Member
Hi Derek, you want me to provide evidence? you dont think those things that I describe take place? really !
If it pleases you, I have been the investigating officer in charge for every single one of those examples - all real life examples from my little area of the world.
I was merely correcting you when you said housing benefit fraud is not committed by individuals but wealthy landlords...it most certainly is committed by individuals.
How much money is actually lost - well the Govt state "
The DWP claim that fraudulent benefit claims amounted to around £900 million in 2019–20." How near that is to the actual figure I have no idea, but, in 25 years as a fraud officer I dont think I have ever, ever been so busy that I am now.
The other fraud you mention, Govt contracts etc I have no experience/expertise in and do not work in that area so would not wish to comment on.
Thanks for your reply.

Two things:

1. The DWP fraud claim of around £900 million in 2019-20, is this independently verified? How much of this is subsequently claimed back? And how much is this the DWP's fault via an overpayment mistake, or the claimant's fault in knowingly withholding information or knowingly signing a document?

2. I was led to believe that rent payments were made directly to landlords/ladies and that renters never see that money, am I wrong? Is HB paid to renters directly, who then pay their landlords/ladies?

If it's the former, then it's wealthy owners who are committing fraud, if it's the latter then it's definitely the claimants who are at fault. Are you suggesting a level of collusion between renters and their landpeople? In that, the renter claims the rent is X amount, the landperson verifies this in the tenancy agreement, but the figure is actually less and somebody (maybe both) pocket the overpayment?
 

Yorkshire toffee

Well-known Member
Thanks for your reply.

Two things:

1. The DWP fraud claim of around £900 million in 2019-20, is this independently verified? How much of this is subsequently claimed back? And how much is this the DWP's fault via an overpayment mistake, or the claimant's fault in knowingly withholding information or knowingly signing a document?

2. I was led to believe that rent payments were made directly to landlords/ladies and that renters never see that money, am I wrong? Is HB paid to renters directly, who then pay their landlords/ladies?

If it's the former, then it's wealthy owners who are committing fraud, if it's the latter then it's definitely the claimants who are at fault. Are you suggesting a level of collusion between renters and their landpeople? In that, the renter claims the rent is X amount, the landperson verifies this in the tenancy agreement, but the figure is actually less and somebody (maybe both) pocket the overpayment?
The money for rent are now paid to the claimant
 

Derek S-H

Distinguished Member
The money for rent are now paid to the claimant
In which case, the only way to commit HB fraud would be via a fake tenancy agreement, either with or without the property owner's knowledge and consent.

I suppose it is possible, though I don't know how for how long you could realistically get away with it.
 

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