Very worried!

Hi All,
I’m new here and can’t sleep through worry.
My partner has received an “interview under caution” regarding supposedly not informing of a “change in circumstances”
It’s a bit long winded, so please bare with me. He became our daughters carer when he was struggling to work after bypass surgery. He just couldn’t fight the medication side effects. So, I was working part time and continued to do so.
We are/were in receipt of housing benefit. My salary increased slightly toward the end of the 2016/17 tax year, and I honestly can’t remember if I sent any payslips off. But everything was declared to the tax credit office.
Then the following year I got a promotion, back dated. When everything was sorted out, I finally got back pay in the Feb and my new salary in the March. We had some problems at home, due to a malicious call about our daughters weight ( not gaining weight is part of her condition) so we had social services involvement at that time. Due to the anger and upset it all caused me, I made sure I sent off 3 payslips showing my previous, backdated, and new pay. Stupidly I posted them. ( pride stopped me from scanning at work because I didn’t want anyone to see - could kick myself now!) I made sure because I can’t handle the stress of anything extra than our daily life. It’s hard enough as it is. But at the time, I remember that our following months HB was reduced ( and I’ve checked it to make sure) I thought no more of it. We carried on with the social services stuff, it went on for months, but the case was finally closed. I was exhausted from keeping all the balls in the air. I’m out of the house 50 hours a week for a 32 hour job. My Nan was going downhill fast with dementia, my mum wasn’t coping. And to top it off, I was ( and still am) attending night school so that we can eventually be off of benefits entirely. I hate it.
So, this year in June, the housing asked for evidence of income. I got quite muddled about dates and when I thought I’d had a pay rise ( actually thought it was earlier than it really was) but they said they’d had no info since 2016! I know this not to be the case because I sent it - and the reason why I made sure won’t leave me because it was a distressing time.
So I gave them all they asked for. Had to pay for P60’s I couldn’t find. But they didn’t tally with my monthly salary. So they hit us with a massive overpayment which I wanted to be looked at again with my bank statements showing my actual payments. Before I could do anymore, they then decided that our (just) 18 yr old must be at work and then said we were entitled to nothing, and sent a payment plan of £500 per month for the next 10 months! I would have laughed if I didn’t want to cry.
I sent the evidence to prove he was in education, along with evidence of child benefit.
I was planning to go into the benefits office this week with bank statements showing my actual salary for the times they have me earning almost £200 per month more than I was - when this letter for the interview has dropped through the door.
I am worried sick. We have done everything they asked, and I know they should have info from a year ago. And just to add, if I do a benefits calculator of my pay and our total income, it still shows us with an £88 per week benefit award.
I am so confused. How could they say I intentionally held back info when not only did I send in my payslips, but everything is held by HMRC, and our money went down the following month ?
I am absolutely terrified, because I only have my word against theirs that I sent anything in.
But more so for my partner. He’s the one being called in and I’m the one who deals with the paperwork. Because of my ineptitude and pride - I should have emailed them - he is in this position.
I haven’t been able to eat all weekend, I feel sick.
This was supposed to be a well earned week off with our youngest and all I want to do is cry.
Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I simply can’t cope with this kind of thing.

Hi Victoria,
I’m not surprised you are feeling anxious, the DWP have been swooping on lots of carers in this way.

I strongly advise you get in touch with the helpline:

Carers UK provides information, support and advice to carers. The information and advice we provide covers a range of subjects relating to caring including:

• Benefits and tax credits
• Carers employment rights
• Carers assessments and how to get support
• Services available to carers
• How to complain effectively and challenge decisions

You can email us at > > and we will respond to your enquiries within 10 working days, although it can often be sooner.

Our telephone helpline providing information is open on Mondays and Tuesdays between 10am and 4pm - > 0808 808 7777

If they don’t reply in a timely enough way, then contact the Citizen’s Advice Bureau.

Write it all out and code the evidence e.g. P60 says X, bank statements state Y, HB was reduced on such and such a date, I sent off information when so and so happened - date etc.


Hi Victoria.

Suffice to say , you are not alone … over 80,000 family carers have been flagged in the past year by the DWP :

Strongly recommend either the CAB or the Carers UK Advice Team ( Best by email ) … contact details for both follow :

Let us know how you get on … it may help others in a similar situation.

Thank you for the info. I will get in touch with CAB and get carers advice. They haven’t suspended any benefit as the have paid the lower amount today. That’s even more confusing!
Is it worth me phoning the housing benefit office to see if I can talk to them? I have the time this week to go in and one set of advice ( I’ve been googling it) says to try and resolve it with the benefits office - but be careful what you say. I’m not worried about that because I can show them what I have. Apart from any evidence of sending the 3 payslips. I will kick myself forever over that!
Thanks again.

I would seek advice first as the HB question is contingent on other factors.

Thanks for that. I was so tempted today to contact them. I can’t stop feeling sick. But I have been in touch with CAB and will be going to their drop in tomorrow. They have provided me a list of solicitors who I will call tomorrow after I’ve gotten advice.
Suffice to say I will be looking for an additional job to top up our income so we can be done with these type of benefits once and for all.
I can’t cope with them handling things so poorly, I’d rather be out of it and run myself into the ground for a couple of years and get them paid back quicker.
I just hope this doesn’t all fall apart and they accept that I did what I say I did. The thought of either of us being prosecuted for fraud is just terrifying.

I hope this information helps You think you're being accused of benefit fraud - Citizens Advice

Make additional photocopies of evidence. Send via secure recorded delivery. If possible send a old letter from a specialist detailing his condition.

Thank you.
I’m not sure I can get any copies of anything that I know I sent if they say they didn’t get them?
I saw someone at CAB today, and I came away with a solicitors list. It was a bit awful for a minute because the lady who came bathing in said “we can’t help you with that because it’s a criminal matter and you need a solicitor” That certainly didn’t do me any favours! I just about held it together:
She did warm a little when she saw what I was talking about and commented that it’s unusual to go to DWP once the housing have sorted it. In one way that makes me feel better because I know there’s nothing untoward going on with us.
If it’s the stuff from 18 months ago, I can’t prove I sent in the info back then - only that I did everything asked in June this year.
I have contacted a solicitor and am awaiting them to call back. They will be attending with him on the day.
This has given me such a kick up the backside and made me look at how I can make our lives work a little better for us all. How to be more organised and stay on top of the important stuff. I feel like an absolute idiot right now!


I feel like an absolute idiot right now!

Not uncommon in CarerLand wherein even the simple things tend to leave most exasperated ?

Rest assured … you will be dealing with human beings … as opposed to automated robots.

There again , it is the DWP … ?

Hi Victoria, really sorry to hear of the situation that you’re in and how much worry it has caused. If you need to run through anything or have any questions, do get in touch with our advice team who can be contacted via email / phone.
0808 808 7777 (Mon - Tues, 10am to 4pm)

Thank you.
I contacted the housing today to ask if they could search everywhere for the payslips - but nothing. Asked me if I got it recorded - I don’t even get home from work to catch the post office - so that would never be possible. I have sent them all of my bank statements showing all of the pay for them to adjust the overpayment. I have accepted that there is one, even though the way it works confuses me no end, but the way it works should reduce it.
In the meantime I have decided to try and calm down a bit. Our lives are chaotic and stressful enough as it is, and I don’t need to be driving myself mad over something I know I have not done. Whatever it is, it is a human error, made by a very stretched human. I am working so hard going to night school after a days work to make a better life for us, especially since my partner can no longer manage working, so we can live independent of any help… I think thats what’s upsetting me most in some ways. .
But I have taken the time to reflect on just how stressful the past 3 years have been and to be honest, I’m surprised I haven’t completely broken, so I’m just going to have to live with knowing I was stupid to not have given it a thought - to have not checked they received the payslips ( I am still assuming that’s what it is) but I am allowing myself the knowledge that there wasn’t any room for any more thoughts at that time.
I have been productive in sorting out our bank accounts and condensing them into one, and getting rid of the ones I don’t need, so one less juggling act. I have had our daughters dietician appointment, have my sons doctors tomorrow and have started to set up my own private part time work and set up a business bank account. I can then cancel the benefits once this is all sorted and give myself a major break from worrying about all the demands and restrictions that come with it.
And Friday I can have a nice day taking out my youngest to the cinema. My week off has been ruined enough.

I managed to get a solicitor, but was too impatient waiting for him to call me back, so I decided to call the investigator myself to find out what was needed.
Once I explained everything, she said she’d need to interview me too.
In a weird way, that’s making me a little less terrified - when I’m not playing the future out in my head of me being convicted and losing our future! But at least I know what I did, and what my intentions were not fraudulent and will be able to give my version of events as they occurred.
I doubt I’ll be able to do it without getting upset because the whole thing has frightened me so much and triggered anxiety, but I can hope to get my genuine point across and they see it was an oversight on my part.
I don’t know how I’m going to get through the next 3 weeks, but it will soon be over one way or the other.

Hi Victoria,
in many ways, whatever the outcome, you will feel better after the interview and decision, as then you will know what you are dealing with. I would still take advice from a solicitor, even though you have contacted the investigator yourself and spoken to them. Make sure you are super prepared for the interview and make notes of the points you want to get across, so however worried you feel, you can say what you want/need to say - by reading aloud if necessary.

I hope you enjoyed your trip with your daughter to the cinema and the hospital appointments went well.


Good luck for the interview! Make notes during your interview as well. When is the interview? Try not to worry.

Thank you all:
The interview is 15th Nov. I have sorted a solicitor because it’s just too frightening a territory for me.
I am spiralling a bit, and wanted to cry looking at my son in class today thinking of how much I have let them down by not being on top of things.
I have written out everything that I have had to deal with over the last few years and to be honest, looking back at it, I can see how overwhelmed I was.
I was only just starting to get things back together after starting hrt 10 weeks ago. I was starting to feel on top, and now it’s just all feeling too much again.
I’m so scared of being prosecuted for fraud, when the reality is I just wasn’t managing.
I will lose everything.

Good luck!

Hi Victoria,
It’s very easy to start thinking “what if” and to have spiralling thoughts, many of which are just that, your mind going over and over it, trying to make sense of it/ find a solution. You have done everything you can in preparation and have a solicitor to support you. Have you met with the solicitor to talk things through? Now you need to focus on strategies that help you feel calmer, to help you get through the next few weeks. That could be talking it through, writing it down, mindfulness, exercise, cleaning the house from top to bottom, getting outside - whatever helps, really.


Just thought I’d update. My interview was postponed until today - and it’s now over with.
My solicitor didn’t turn up because of a system glitch - but I had my mum with me for moral support - and was only working with the truth so felt it better to go ahead and get it over with.
It went on for over an hour. And I’ve realised there was an awful lot I didn’t know about housing benefit - all the changes to report - with both money going up and down - our rent going up each year. None of it was on my radar. There is a lot to sort out to get the actual overpayment clarified - all of which I have said I am more than willing to pay back - and then I will await their decision. I could do no more than stress the juggling act that is my life - and never would I put at risk my whole future, my reputation and my family for any kind of money.
Upon leaving they told me to try and not worry - so I am hoping that is a sign that they believe that I would never intentionally create an overpayment and take it no further. They said they will try to come to a decision as soon as possible - so now all I can do is wait and try and focus on my family, caring responsibilities, my night school and work. I will update when I hear anything more for anyone else who may find themselves in a similar position.


And I’ve realised there was an awful lot I didn’t know about housing benefit - all the changes to report - with both money going up and down - our rent going up each year. None of it was on my radar.

A harsh lesson on the modern day realities of the benefits system ?

Good luck … and try to stay calm pending the next communication from the DWP ?

Thanks Chris.
You’re right. It’s a minefield! Hopefully, I f they take it no further, I can pay back the overpayment and hope to never need hb again!