DWP invite me to a meeting, The Department for Work and Pensions
The postman delivered a buff brown envelope on the 7th Feb. The Wife gave it to me. The return address was DWP, PO Box 585, Belfast. Straightaway I said, “Oh this is something about my disability allowance”. Instead the DWP invite me to a meeting, much more sinister.
The basic gist was as follows
The meeting will be at the Hemel Hempstead JCP (Job Centre Plus) building at 9.00 on Tuesday 21st February 2017 to check my benefits. There was no ‘Excuse me could you possibly …’. This was an order from the Department of Work and Pensions.
I immediately wrote a letter asking to change the date of the meeting and offered a string of alternative dates. I still have not received a reply. A Hemel Hempstead phone number was printed on the letter. I rang it repeatedly but no one answered the phone.
A week before the appointment
I happened to try the phone number again. A woman answered the phone. She listened to my request to change the date.
“You can only change the date for a funeral or hospital appointment” she stated.
“Oh!” I said
She added “We are investigating you for fraud”.
Suddenly everything was much more serious.
No mention of fraud on the letter
The letter stated “We need to check your personal information” plus a list of documents that I must bring to the appointment.
Come 21st of Feb I get up at 6.30. It takes me over an hour to wash and dress. The Wife drove and we arrive at the office just before 9. As we walk into the office a woman appears from behind a pillar and asks me to go into her office. My wife who is my carer could NOT accompany me.
I felt very uncomfortable
I was offered a seat but I stayed on my mobility scooter for a quick getaway, as if…
The woman introduced herself to me but I forget the name. She then says that the Department of Work and Pensions works very closely with HMRC. Now I knew who had dobbed on me. That’s why the DWP invite me to a meeting. She then went on to produce evidence that in two weeks of the year 2014/15 I had earned more than my Incapacity Support benefit for each week. The excess was trivial, maybe £10 or £15 on each occasion.
I explained these were for talks I give as a service user to student nurses. “This is very commendable” she said “but I want to know why you have not informed the department of changes to your circumstances.”.
“I thought this only applied to my medical circumstances”. I pleaded ignorance.
I must now complete a form for permitted work giving the details of the organisations that will be providing the ongoing support and supervision of my work. For example I work with several universities. The frequency of the work is totally unpredictable. Its the gig economy.
In a nutshell
I can’t work more than 16 hours a week or earn more than I receive in any week of my Incapacity Support Benefit (ESA) allowance.
I enjoy talking about my experiences with a Long Term Condition and disability to student nurses. Its called being a service user and I enjoy it. Now someone has hit me on the head with a large mallet. Is this the penalty for enterprise and education? Have any of you encountered this sort of problem?
This document may help you to understand these issues.