Being accused of DLA fraud may force you to apply for PIP

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The Benefits and Work website claims that people will lose their Disability Living Allowance permanently if someone accuses them of fraud. There is some truth behind this claim but the headline is a wild speculation from the information that they actually have.

The facts behind the story are this:

People who currently receive DLA will all be “invited” to apply for Personal Independence Payments over the next few years. A large number of people who receive DLA are not expected to qualify for the same level of support from PIP and so this move is rightly feared by many. People can apply for PIP before their DLA runs out if they wish – these are “self selectors” in DWP speak. Anyone whose care or mobility needs change will have to apply for PIP rather than alter their DLA claim. As long as nothing changes, most people can remain on DLA until 2015 or the end of their award.

The scary part of this story comes from a quote that Benefits and Work found on Rightsnet.

“At our local JC+/customer/representative forum meeting last week a DWP partner support manager brought the following change of wording to the attention of the meeting (second bullet point on page one of link)

In his words anyone who was ‘bubbled’ (shopped) would be taken as if they were a ‘self selector’ in the DLA/PIP reassessments.

Nothing appears to have been changed in the PIP trans regs to allow this but it is worrying when the PIP/DWP ‘thinking’ changes the words ‘those claimants where we receive information…’ from the actual legislation.”

The source claims that anyone who is reported to the DWP for fraud will be treated as if they have reported a change and therefore have to apply for PIP.

This is a fairly tenuous link, but a worrying one all the same. The overwhelming majority of reports to the benefit fraud hotline are either malicious or wrong and the fraud rate for DLA is incredibly low. If all that is required to trigger the move to PIP is a false report then a lot of people are going to be badly affected. However, we do not know whether this second-hand claim is true, or whether the practice will be widespread or just confined to one or two areas, and we do not know if a person will have to be found guilty of benefit fraud or just reported – the wording could mean either. Given the history of the DWP’s approach to sanctions I wouldn’t say it is out of the question for this to happen against the rules, but we will have to wait and see about that.

I find the way that Benefits and Work have reported this to be irresponsible and misleading. In their email they stated that “The DWP have ruled that…” when there is no such ruling, only a second-hand report. They also missed out the third sentence from their quote, which stated that nothing has changed in the PIP regulations.

I do not think anyone should worry about being moved because of a malicious fraud report, at least until we have more evidence.

Benefits and Work: Claimants to lose DLA permanently if falsely accused of fraud, DWP decides

  • Jay

    This is an absolute disgrace! The DWP have already put the working population against anyone on benefits, especially the disabled and long term sick! Now an awful lot of people are going to get “shopped” just for the sake of it! Neighbours can do it just for spite, anyone on JSA could do it because a “friend” of theirs gets more money than them.
    This has got to be one of the most vicious “rules” that the DWP and this Government have brought out!
    I am disabled, as is my husband and will now be terrified any time we go out, or indeed, all the time now. We have nothing to hide but some “spiteful” person who loves to cause upset, could well report us and we would have nothing whilst they stopped our DLA and we had to apply for PIP.
    We are both already terrified each time a brown envelope comes through the door and now we will be terrified all the time.
    This is just so wrong, it’s a wonder we can carry on…

  • AndyPlatt

    I’m surprised Benefits & Work were so sensationalist as they normally seem to know their way round the law.

    Changes to PIP not withstanding, an ongoing DLA claim cannot be changed unless there are a) grounds to supercede it and b) the facts are such that a different (or no) award is justified. The process can be initiated by the Secretary of State.

    It’s a 2 stage process, firstly grounds for superceding must be established. Such grounds are usually a change in circumstances or that the facts the award was originally based on turn out to be wrong. There are other grounds but importantly, if a ground for superceding cannot be established then it’s as if nothing has happened and the award carries on undisturbed until eg transition to PIP finally occurs in 2015.

    So in the case of a malicious false report to the benefit hotline, there will be no grounds to supercede. It might take an appeal to establish that but, apart from the inevitable delay, that should make no difference to the end result.

    The worrying thing is of course that fewer and fewer people have access to assistance with appeals so, if this really is the DWP’s intended means of dealing with this situation, it sounds like they are relying on people being steamrollered and not knowing there’s anything they can do about it which would be rather sinister.

    But as you say, actual fraud is extremely low in DLA and presumably false allegations aren’t that common. And it’s not as if the DWP has oodles of extra staff to go engineering claimants off DLA and onto PIP early when they are going to be moved in 2015 anyway.

    So yeah, reckon the quoted approach is extremely dodgy legally and the worry is somewhat overblown.

    • http://dwgism.livejournal.com/ DGillon

      ‘presumably false allegations aren’t that common’

      If only! 97% of allegations to the National Benefit Fraud Hotline are either malicious or have no basis in fact. The allegation against me was that I was working full time while claiming ESA. I only get out of the house for around 2-4 hours a week, can only leave it using the car, and the car sits in full view all day, every day, so there was no way for the allegation to be anything other than malicious. That was the sum total of the (anonymous) evidence against me, and evidence I had no right to see, but it was still sufficient for DWP to launch an investigation and an investigator to come out and see me. I know too many people investigated under similarly non-existent evidence to believe that my case was in any way anomalous, and, as I noted in my other comment, DWP have always issued you a warning when subjected to an investigation, even one with no basis in fact.

  • http://dwgism.livejournal.com/ DGillon

    Having been through a Benefit Fraud investigation (completely false accusation, demonstrably could only have been intentionally malicious), I’m not so convinced it’s wild speculation. The DWP investigator had accepted that the accusation was false between me opening the door and her stepping inside, but still insisted that I sign a statement acknowledging that I had been warned failing to report a change of circumstances was a crime. So there’s always been a change in your status after one of these investigations in DWP eyes, even when completely vindicated. I find the allegation completely believable, particularly given all the evidence that’s come out of DWP sharp practise over the last couple of years (the sanctioning targets that didn’t exist, people being forced onto Universal Jobsmatch when there was no power to compel them, people being forced onto workfare schemes where there was no power to compel them, laws being changed retroactively to legalise workfare, the list goes on).

    Remember, DWP admit that around 40% of people currently in receipt of DLA HRM will lose HRM when assessed for PIP, and similarly high numbers will lose all eligibility for PIP. I don’t find the headline unreasonable when you combine that and the statement from Rightnet. It needs urgent clarification, but reporting it is one way of ensuring there is sufficient pressure to generate that clarification.

  • NORBET

    I’m not really sure if Benefits and Work are actually being sensationalist …there have been anecdotal reports of people being in the office for being reported to the DWP Fraudline ….one * apparently told the DWP / JCP member of staff it was a malicious groundless allegation made in very bad faith …to settle a petty vendetta and the * alleged response was it will have to be flagged up to a DWP ” Decision Maker ”

    There appears to be a very , very regimented style of management by diktat , there will be a lot of pressure working it’s way down the DWP food chain ; no doubt a culture of fear , staff scared of their own shadows and yes sycophantic staff looking to impress , gain brownie points to give the impression of being ” mean and lean ” or at the very best trying to relieve the pressure on themselves .

    There’s shades of the Majorite 90′s era – Concentration Camp management – i.e. as long as someone else is in trouble and it’s not me …even that bastion of socalism the CBI said it was inefficent …because the chickens come home to roost ….you can also have Animal House Management …clones and corruption …you’ll always have bullying & corruption with target culture …the so called payment by results …with lots of results ! .

    Let’s just say with a very autocratic style and New Public Sector Management …there’s people being tasked with making the impossible ” work ” . The Minister ( IDS ) and his senior civil servants ( the likes of Devereux ) cracking the whip .

    Letwin has talked of fear and discipline in that public sector which the Tories are bound to be ideologically hostile to …Osborne has wanted regional marketised pay for JCP / DWP staff …and there have been blogs about outsourcing postions to Steria ( Off shore ( most probably meaning India ) support solutions ) …Maude the Fraud * only joking M’lud * allegedly made a speech to the Centre of Policy Studies …about privatising the whole public sector …he had no qualms about tax payers money being channelled into off shore tax havens and / or foreign companies . They love globalism …as it means race to the bottom .

    IMHO ….if Benefits and Work are apparently mistaken …they are at the very least getting ” very warm ” …also this is just the sort of internal class warfare that Osborne loves …divide and rule …get ‘em all shopping each other …at each other’s throats …some of the omnishambles stuff is perfectly deliberate…but I agree with you to a point about ” keeping your powder dry ” for the time being .

  • NORBET

    @ D Gillon I agree there is a openly vindictive and hostile culture appearing to eminate from the DWP ….it smacks of a we might well of been sent on a wild goose chase by some petty minded crank …but we think we’ve got your number and we’ll get you next time on any little thing …the coercion to sign a warning form is the guilty by association routine …it sounds very dodgy legally …because to make a baseless malicious allegation could may be construed as harassment

    I’ve even heard of one case where when a Local Authority Compliance Officer was asked to show her official ID …a couple of years later this was used to back up a fraud prosecution – ” He eventually let me in ” – i.e. he was acting in a suspicious manner ..inferences being drawn

    We used to have the blank file or flimsy allegations remaining on file at work .

    It fits in with the 1800s IDS and Freud Poor Law ideology – as much as they’d like workhouses …there isn’t any …but that is the whole idea …make things as hellish as possible so people will be terrified of getting involved with the DWP / JCP …also frightened people are less likely to give the State and / or it’s agencies any trouble . As a DWP source said in The Sunday Telegraph …if we say tap dance …they’ll tap dance …you would be forgiven for wondering who is cracking the whip so to speak here .

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