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Forum Home  →  Discussion  →  Covid-19 issues  →  Thread

Abused mother of two, repaying overpayment of IS and HB, which she claimed under duress. 

Terry Craven
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Hope Advice Centre, Liverpool

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Benefit was claimed when abusive partner was working on oil rigs.She was coerced into claiming by him.  I am looking for an organisation and/or somebody in the Cambridge area who could advise/help with a write off application. A phone number would be helpful. I realise there are thousands of cases like this. He is now subject to a restraint order. There are police logs of various incidents. Any calls to the police from the client are treated as urgent?
Logistics are problematic, otherwise I would get involved. I am in Scouse Land. Thanks!
1) Correct me if I am wrong but I’d try and open the case up again by asking the DWP for a copy of the OP letter. My experience is the DWP rarely if at all follow the law, inter alia which mandates the Secretary of State provides claimants with in depth schedule of the overpayments, eg the overall period of the alleged overpayment; the dates and individual amounts of the alleged overpayments and if an offset has been deducted from the OP.
Since 2010 I have often seen clients who have been interviewed by fraud officers and shortly afterwards received a letter from “Debt Recovery”, which states the alleged amount of the OP plus 50% admin fee and that it will be deducted from any ongoing benefit along with the civil fine of £50. If this is the case I ask the DWP to issue the relevant OP letter, which it is legally obliged to do.. When you start the process get your client to make a SARS request to the DWP for a copy of their file. Once this is done, wait two weeks before asking the DWP for a copy of the OP letter.
2) Make an application to write off the debt. Hopefully, a women’s aid organisation or similar could help.
These actions are not mutually exclusive. They can run concurrently. Women’s Aid could apply for the write off. The benefit adviser could challenge the DWP.
If there have been fundamental changes to OP legislation, please let me know? I know about UC.
 

[ Edited: 11 Aug 2021 at 01:26 am by Terry Craven ]
Daphne
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Advicelocal is great for checking out the resources in a particular area - https://advicelocal.uk/find-an-adviser

Martin Williams
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Welfare rights advisor - CPAG, London

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Terry- just as a possibility I had some involvement with a UT case where we tried (unsuccessfully and in retrospect unwisely) to argue about duress and so on. The case decides one cannot rely on duress to escape s.71 SSAA liability for F to D or misrep.

However, the SSWP rep in that case made a really helpful point that it was arguable that the relationship between the alleged members of the unmarried couple were such that they were not in fact a couple - don’t know if client still in time to challenge the substantive entitlement decision that creates the o/p.

The wording from the SSWP in that case was as follows:

3. The tribunal found that the claimant and Mr [X] were a “couple” for ESA and JSA purposes because they were two people who, although not married to each other, were living together as if they were a married couple. In her letter of appeal to the tribunal the claimant stated that “for the period of time when I was living with Mr [X] I was subjected to domestic violence and sexual and financial abuse.” In PP v Basildon District Council (HB) [2013] UKUT 0505 (AAC) (copy enclosed) Judge Jacobs set out a line of authority that emphasises that an enduring emotional bond of mutual love, affection, nurturance and commitment is integral to the relationship of marriage. In my submission, the claimant’s grounds of appeal raised a serious question as to whether the relationship between her and Mr [X] was genuinely characterized by such a loving bond or was merely a perverted and destructive parody of it. In the event, the tribunal made a few findings about the supporting documentation the claimant had submitted (paragraph 10 of its Statement of Reasons) but failed to mention or address the nature of the emotional relationship between the alleged couple. This omission, in my submission, is an error of law.

The UT decision accepted that was possibly the case (was not put on website or given NCN).

[ Edited: 16 Sep 2021 at 03:23 pm by Martin Williams ]
Paul_Treloar_AgeUK
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Information and advice resources - Age UK

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You’ve anonymised his name later on in the above Martin but left it in the first time around.

Martin Williams
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Welfare rights advisor - CPAG, London

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Nightmare. Fixed. Thanks for the spot Paul.