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Simon, I’m really hoping you can help me. Last week I

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Hi Simon, I’m really hoping...
Hi Simon, I’m really hoping you can help me. Last week I received a letter inviting me to be interviewed under caution. The bot***** *****terally fell out of world as I had no idea what it was about. I contacted the person I was due to see as I was panicking that my identity had been stolen and she told me it was due to my student loan.
At the request of a very lovely lady at the housing benefit office my interview was bought forward and is now complete. Worst experience of my life!!
However, once the interview was over I was told that she believed me and that she wouldn’t be recommending prosecution. That said, she did not know the amount of money owing and that may impact a decision that is not hers to make.
My situation is that I previously had a very respectable and stressful job, my teenage son has autism, adhd and social anxiety, my daughter was assisting the police as a possible victim of sexual abuse (nothing came of it thank god!) and I mentally broke down and quit my job. I declared my circumstances and was then in receipt of income support, dla, housing benefit, council tax support, child tax credit and carer’s allowance. I have not been contacted by the dwp for a conversation or appointment in around 3 years now.
I pulled myself together and now attend university for 7 hours per week studying to become a counsellor, I am about to begin the final term of my 2 year course. It was explained to me that because of the high supplementary costs involved in the course (£2500 approx) they classed it as full time for financial reasons.
The investigation is into housing benefit and income support, as soon as I was aware that £5999 (approx) of my student loan was counted as income I called carer’s allowance to declare my income. They weren’t bothered about that but want to know all of my course information.
I am absolutely terrified at the thought of being prosecuted, it will ruin my life, my degree will be useless and all because I’ve been incredibly stupid.
Please can you offer me any advice on what might/is likely to happen to me? I am feeling suicidal at the thought of anyone thinking I’d ever intentionally do this.
Thank you in advance.
Submitted: 2 months ago.Category: UK Law
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Answered in 26 minutes by:
3/25/2018
Solicitor: Jamie-Law, Solicitor replied 2 months ago
Jamie-Law
Jamie-Law, Solicitor
Category: UK Law
Satisfied Customers: 7,257
Experience: Solicitor
Verified

Hello my name is ***** ***** I will help you with this.

How much is the said overpayment please?

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Customer reply replied 2 months ago
She isn’t sure. It’s very complicated because of student rules and disability elements relating to my son. If carer’s allowance stays put then I estimate around £6000 if it turns out I wasn’t entitled to carer’s then I believe the figure is £8000-£10000
Customer reply replied 2 months ago
I’m so sorry Jamie, I thought I was writing to Simon, apologies for not recognising the different names!
Solicitor: Jamie-Law, Solicitor replied 2 months ago

That is ok. Do you have any previous?

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Customer reply replied 2 months ago
Absolutely not. Another thing to add is that she asked me to send in any evidence of the additional costs for my course. I have sent her bills from my therapist and supervisor (60 hour requirement) plus Mileage and an estimate for books, all totalling around £2500 as she thinks that income support should have asked for these.
Solicitor: Jamie-Law, Solicitor replied 2 months ago

Ok - you could be prosecuted as the threshold is about £2500 or so.

If you are prosecuted then you are likely to get a Community order if convicted.

This means you would have to work with Probation. So you may be under supervision, unpaid work or programme requirement.

Can I clarify anything for you about this today please?

If not I would appreciate a 5 star rating for my answer. If you need more help, you can ask follow up questions for free and I would be delighted to assist. Thanks!

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Customer reply replied 2 months ago
Sorry Jamie but I believe the threshold to be £5000 for knowingly behaving fraudulently (which I wasn’t) I wanted to know what may happen and I don’t think you read my messages clearly or I wasn’t clear in my writing as I am going out of my mind with worry. You failed to mention repayment and have not taken my circumstances into account when considering any possible sentencing. I think I will make an appointment with a solicitor and go from there. Thank you anyway.
Solicitor: Jamie-Law, Solicitor replied 2 months ago

No, it is really down to the local authority. I have been a legal adviser and the local limit was £2500.

I am aware of your circumstances and read as soon as you knew you told them.

But the offence would be that you failed to declare a change in circumstance.

So if you knew and didn't tell them right away, this could be an offence which is made out.

I realise you are worried and that is why I asked what the overpayment was. As you said it would be around££8k - £10k they could well prosecute.

Does that clarify?

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Customer reply replied 2 months ago
I didn’t know until I was told by the lady that interviewed me, as explained she said she believed me and would not recommend prosecution. Do you know if the decision makers take the opinion of the investigator into account regardless of the amount? If it does go to court, what circumstances are taken into account as mitigating? (I think that’s the right word?!) to be clear, I completely see and have not refuted that I owe a lot of money in overpayments and I will do everything possible to repay this as soon as I possibly can, I have genuinely made a huge mistake. I will accept any punishment coming my way, however, commiting to anything on a regular basis is tricky as I have to be available to my son, is that taken into account?
Solicitor: Jamie-Law, Solicitor replied 2 months ago

Yes, they consider the decision makes opinion into consideration, although it is not binding.

Yes, what you say is mitigation, but it is not a defence.

But as I have said, there is no risk of custody, it would be a Community Order.

Does that clarify?

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