The most vulnerable are being investigated for fraud because of trifling sums of money in savings accounts

I accompanied someone to a compliance interview today. Let’s call her Sally. The DWP compliance office is concerned with investigating possible benefit fraud.

 
Well, we hardly had to say anything. The Compliance Officer was visibly upset, and very apologetic. She explained that the DWP has software that allows it to trawl through private bank records to find accounts in the name of benefit claimants that had not been declared. Where this happens a letter is sent automatically, warning of a forthcoming telephone compliance interview.

 

She told us that the DWP seems to have made a decision to target the most disabled and vulnerable people (those in the support group) who have set up small ISA savings accounts to try and put a bit of money aside. Last week all she saw was people who were so vulnerable that they had case workers and similar with them.

 
She explained that a similar situation had happened with pensioners, where very frail old people had ended up at her desk for triflingly small second bank accounts. She had to call an ambulance for some of them. She eventually told her bosses that she refused to do any more routine compliance checks on frail elderly pensioners.

 
She has seen the same thing happening in the last week or so with the most vulnerable disabled people. She said she is going to refuse to see any more of these cases, they should not be being brought in for interview. She felt it completely inappropriate to be carrying out these compliance interviews by phone.

 
There used to be a system that exempted some categories of people from these interviews. The officer was vague about what these categories are, but one was of people who had been given 6 months or less to live. She wasn’t even sure that these exceptions still exist but was going to find out. She felt it was all wrong to have hauled Sally up for a compliance interview, and had a gut feeling that Sally falls into one of these categories.

 
Sally had received one of these letters threatening a telephone compliance interview. Sally suffers from a whole raft of physical and mental health issues that leave her confused and very anxious. A friend brought her to our local group, and I was able to ring the compliance service and have the interview switched to a face to face interview, where I would accompany her.

 
Sally presented her bank statements, showing the piddlingly small amount of money in her savings ISA. Her bank had persuaded her to open this account which is actually completely inappropriate for her as she does not pay income tax, but she gets confused. She had hoped to be able to make a small saving each month but had been unable to keep this up. Like so many others, she struggles to find the money for heating and there is nothing left to save.

 
Th compliance officer was required to request a statement of Sally’s savings account back to 2013. The DWP wants to know that there haven’t been huge sums of undeclared money entering and leaving the account. The Compliance officer said that Sally needn’t go through the stress and the disruption of returning a second time with these documents, I could come to the interview without her.

 
I wonder how many other people are being hit with this?  I know of several.

by Argotina

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20 thoughts on “The most vulnerable are being investigated for fraud because of trifling sums of money in savings accounts

  1. Perhaps a ‘Compliance Officer’ would be better served in getting the non tax paying rich to pay up??!!! If there’s software to trawal through bank accounts etc then I’m sure software is available to work out where people are stashing their unpaid tax!!!! If not someone could earn a great deal in designing one!!

  2. I was called to a compliance interview in November 2014. When you are on benefits the software marries up to your tax & council tax accounts etc. I was shown on the screen that I had got interest, which was pennies, I had not applied for council tax reduction & they wanted to know why. Because that old account had shown interest being paid out on 2012 & 2013, I was not even claiming any benefit at that time but they wanted to check it anyway, when the DWP worked it out they said I have £19,000 lol I took bank statements & a print out of the account in question. The woman was lovely & even told me I should be claiming pip & council tax. Even though it worked out fine it was a very stressful time leading up to the appointment because i had no idea why I was being called in & even when I phoned to ask I was fobbed off.

  3. What software might that be? Perhaps it works in a similar fashion to a TV detector van. Did the DWP specify the account to which they were referring?

  4. They hauled my partner in to speak to a fraud officer accusing him of owning his fathers bank accounts. Days after his father was diagnosed with terminal illness. They told him it was his responsibility to prove the accounts weren’t his, or they’d take him to court. They weren’t even in his name. They treated him like a crminal and never apologised for their mistake either.

    • Let them try to take your partner to court. He hasn’t done anything wrong. Its their responsibility to present and prove their accusations in court. Its not your partners responsibility to prove himself innocent. Trying to put the frighteners on him in the hope that he will confess something. As with the police, keep schtum, never try to explain anything. Get expert help. Report them for harassment.

  5. so now if on benefits yu arent allowed to save small amounts even to pay for replacement furniture.washin machines etc which you cant manage without as an elderly possibly ill or disabled person. yet they dont help with the grants anymore .they do loans, or rather SOME councils do but not all but we are not allowed any pleasures at all including living in a pleasant home, or having the mod cons to help you live a less stressful and easier life n not have to pay out for every tiny job you need doing payback amounts are huge.might as well go to a loan shark.same thing.its bad enough when a job needs professionals to do it.they cost the earth.even if living in rented accommodation there are some things we have to do ourselves if we want an easier life as we get older or more disabled.at least the simpler jobs ,if we can still do them, we should be allowed to save for if they arent going to help us buy them.even 2nd hand washers/full floor standing cookers cost from 50-100 quid.the money has to come from somewhere. and putting say a fiver a month into an ISA to do that should not have anything to do with the damned government. we deserve a life too.

  6. Its obviously better to keep your money at home than in the bank, let’s face it if you wont make any money in interest anyway. I got accused of fraud by DWP, cos my ex and I bred labradors over the years they said the sale money was all profit. Luckily I had kept a lot of receipts but had to sort through several years worth to prove I was losing not gaining money. All 2 weeks before surgery. Almost a year later they visited and said my accounts proved I wasn’t lying. Never got it in writing or an apology. They read me my rights and treated me like a criminal, horrible experience.

  7. Isn’t the same thing happening with those claiming tax credits, sending out compliance letters
    wholesale generating fear among those who are completely innocent?

  8. I read this in disbelief, worried I contacted a close friend whos a Director of a prestigious bank. They told me that bank records are private, and that if DWP has software to infiltrate bank records then they are breaking the law as this is highly illegal, My friend is going to look into this and get back to me. So watch this spate

    • I went to another one of these interviews today, same thing. The software to look at bank records belongs to the tax office, HMRC. They trawl through bank records looking for undeclared accounts. I imagine this power was given to them in the campaign against money laundering. But their system is linked to the DWP so that when one of these accounts is owned by someone claiming benefits, the compliance office is automatically informed. Or so the Compliance officer told me. In today’s case, the claimant had actually informed the DWP of the second bank account when she took out the claim in the first place. The compliance officer said the automated system wasnt complex enough to look for this.

  9. Well I knw that when they (wrongly) accussed me of fraud they had already got details of my bank accounts. I think DWP do pretty much what the like, guilty until proved innocent is their motto!

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