DWP invite me to a meeting, The Department for Work and Pensions

Department for Work and Pensions invite me to a meeting

Department for Work and Pensions, Hemel Hempstead

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.

Department for Work and Pensions invite me to a meeting

The fateful letter

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.

Paperwork

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.

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February 2017

17 responses to “DWP invite me to a meeting, The Department for Work and Pensions”

  1. Robin Peter says:

    At least you had a day out and goes some way to explaining DWP staff are too busy to deal with more important stuff like the thousands they have underpaid female pensioners for the past 20 years.

  2. Gavan says:

    @Nick Mellis
    PIP and DLA themselves have no requirements not to earn any other income. Nor do you have to declare that you are receiving any additional income if you are receiving PIP or DLA.

    These two benefits are the exceptions, the only two I believe.

    The other benefits all have limits to what you can earn extra to the benefits in any given week. Mostly there isn’t a chance that you’ll lose the benefits totally. It’s just that the benefits agency will adjust how much they pay you each period depending on how much you tell them your other income is.

    It’s nothing really to worry about. Basically if you have other income in some weeks, you declare it (I think only if it’s over £20 in the same week) and one or more future benefit payments will be adjusted down accordingly. It’s fairly sensible, as if you are earning the money, you don’t need as much from maintenance benefits.

    Again, none of this applies to PIP or DLA. You can have any amount of other income and still receive all the entitled PIP / DLA. It actually oesn’t matter how much.the other income is, and there is never anything to declare money-wise about PIP & DLA.

    You can be on a millionaire’s income and still be awarded and receive PIP or DLA. I think the term for these two benefits is “not income related”. It’s understandably controversial.

    I think many people understand that someone working with a salary of £30,000 or more can still need the benefit to enable them to be able to do necessary things to carry out their work and life. For example, a single parent, renting, with a number of kids may not be able to afford the car, and upkeep, needed for work without the motability scheme. However, the same entitlement is there for people earning ten times that amount, and so on, which seems weird to me. In a way I understand the state disability pledge to everyone equally and I hope I wouldn’t be offending anyone earning significant salaries who receive PIP or DLA also. In another way, I think it’s quite mad, if someone earns lots of money yet also receives PIP or DLA.

    • Hello Gavan

      Yup, in the case of DLA/PIP the payment is not means tested.

      Payment of other benefits becomes much more difficult when I was working in the gig economy. In one month I might receive credits totalling £850 and then go two or three months earning next to nothing Over the space of the year by income always under the £6000 per year. I know that the allowable income varies tremendously from benefit to benefit. I received income support with an allowance of £120 per week

  3. jon Allan Homan says:

    Jon Allan Homan. Heart & Mobile Disability Patient: Just to say thank you in conjuction with my local Trust Hospital/ Medical Practicioner anf my local Supermarket for making my condition easier to bear. I am with my wife most grateful.

  4. Rose says:

    like you i have just received a brown envelopev from Belfast,.i no longer receive DLA so it cant be that and i have seen the words “benefit office ” and “check” but thasts all,I havent had the courage to open it yet.i have not worked so it cant be that,am worried.

    • Hello Rose,

      I do sympathize and one thing you must not do is pretend it does not exist. Maybe get a friend or someone you trust to open it and then help you. It could be harmless, just a statement of money received for the taxman.

      Good luck and do it because it is not worth getting on the wrong side of them, they can be a bit officious if ignored,

      Talk soon,

  5. Bal says:

    Hi I received a appointment letter from my job center week after post ing date n day before appointment. Some thing fishy coz undelivered address is bt1 1dw Belfast plz tell me wts happing

    • Hello Bal,

      Sorry about delay in replying, been away from my computer for a few days. I suggest you phone up the job Centre unless you have done that already. I don’t know what is going on but don’t bury it or forget about it.

      All DWP/job centre letters sent from Belfast so it is not fishy or a scam

  6. I assume Julia is helping you. You couldn’t be in better hands. Good luck with this.
    Barbara

    • Hello Barbara,

      The whole HMRC and DWP issue is causing me a lot of stress. The whole problem could be dealt with in a much more sympathetic way. They make me feel guilty without giving me an opportunity to put my case forward.

  7. Allan McMillan says:

    Would it be possible to for you to accept expenses at each talk? Their job should be to encourage your enterprise, and give advice on the correct way to count the pennies.

    • Hello Alan,

      Whilst the DWP and HMRC are investigating me I have had to cancel everything. Once the investigation is over and the dust has settled I can take a view.

      Meanwhile its freebies all round providing the option of payment is not on the table

  8. Vee says:

    Seriously?!? How many man hours has it cost the DWP to investigate a paltry £25 over a limit 3-4 years ago?!?! How is that a good use of tax payers money? I’m appalled you’ve been put through this stress

    • Hello Vee

      In total I have received about £7000 since 2012 on top of my incapacity benefit that I am paid. Appatrently this is a NO NO and I will have to repay incapacity benefit, don’t know how much. I have someone from New Bucks University defending my corner. Definitely shades of Animal Farm.

      So much for enterprise and keeping myself alert and healthy. Do watch this space, I will recount the story as it unfolds

      Stress, yes all causing much too much of it

  9. Nick Melliss says:

    Thanks for this account, and you’re right – it is the penalty for enterprise and education. I had one PiP assessment, which I’ll never do again. I just want steer clear of DWP and HMRC as much as I can. They’re both sinister organisations. It’s appalling that their actions quash initiative and take away any desire to help out. Sometimes I feel I want rise up, fight back and get onto the barricades, but more often I just give up and turn my back on the whole ghastly state of affairs.

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