Income support and Direct Payments

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xSparksx

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Income support and Direct Payments

  • on: 05 Mar 2013 01:39PM
Hi all, hope I'm not duplicating anything from elsewhere, but I had a quick browse and couldn't see the answer to my question.

I had a phone call from Jobcentre Plus yesterday, a review of my Income Support. Fine. I hadn't had one in a while. They asked what accounts I have and how much are in them.

I get Direct Payments from social services, for which I am required to have a separate bank account. Obviously this money is only to be used for approved purposes, and by having a separate bank account social services can very easily check what I'm spending the money for. This is all fine, I've had DPs for several years now with no problem, and I declared the bank account to JCP when I applied for IS (I think I wrote them a covering letter explaining that this bank account was separate, could not be considered income, and that I am not free to spend it on anything but care). There wasn't a problem with this account then.

During the phone call yesterday, obviously I declared that I had this bank account because it's always the best policy to be open and transparent! The woman I spoke to completely failed to grasp that this is /not my money/. She wanted to know how much was in it. Well, that bank account + my current account + an online savings account I have = more than 6000. But the social services account isn't my money! She decided she needed to see bank statements for this account and that 'we need to find out why you've got so much money'.

My own savings are actually hovering at around 5,900 at the moment, because tbh I get DLA, IB and IS with a host of premiums, I don't have to contribute to my care (lucky me!) and I'm too ill to leave the house much, so not spending on taxis, etc, and my housing costs are low because I live with my (also disabled) mother. I'm trying to be careful not to go over the limit, because I didn't want to have to fill in a pile of forms. I've saved some money for re-doing the front path, which is currently rather dangerous, and will be expensive to re-pave - we own this house, so all maintenance, etc, we have to pay for. And I recently bought a new laptop to replace a dying one, and got it cheaper than I'd expected, so I had money 'left over' from what I'd saved for that.

Anyway, my rather long explanation is leading up to this question: has anybody else had problems with IS (or other income-based benefits) trying to decide that Direct Payments are income?

I have emailed my social worker, who's replied very promptly with a brilliant letter laying out the facts, but I just want to know if there's anything I should say/do in terms of JCP to get this sorted out with a minimum of hassle. The whole situation has both stressed and depressed us, and it's come on top of weeks of this going wrong, and that going wrong, and grandparent in the hospital, and pet illnesses, and I really could have done without this too!

Many thanks in advance, and sorry for being long-winded. I think a combination of low mood and brain fog is giving me problems with succinctness!

Monic1511

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Re: Income support and Direct Payments

  • on: 05 Mar 2013 05:29PM
Hi Sparks

Its probably a newer staff member who hasn't come across this situation before and wants to be safe rather than sorry from the departments point of view.  You will probably get a letter asking you to confirm all bank accounts in your name from a specific date and if you send back the original bank statements with a covering letter along with the social workers letter it should all be sorted out.

it sounds similar to the housing benefit senarios where people are found fit & their housing benefit stops until they can prove they are still on benefit and haven't miraculously been cured and started full time employment

try and stay calm & take care
Monic

xSparksx

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Re: Income support and Direct Payments

  • on: 05 Mar 2013 05:47PM
Thank you, Monic. I have been panicking a bit about it, tbh - partly because I think I can't absolutely guarantee 100% that my balance hasn't gone a few quid over 6000 a couple of times (for less than a few days) - I find it so hard to keep on top of things when I'm in a bad ME patch, which I am right now.

I'm waiting for their letter telling me what they want, and I'll reply promptly, and hopefully it'll all get sorted out. Thank you again :)

devine63

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Re: Income support and Direct Payments

  • on: 06 Mar 2013 01:25AM
Hi xSparksx

sounds like good advice from the others, so I'll leave that aspect.   Just wanted to suggest that  you need to spend some of those savings to save yourself more trouble - maybe think about house maintenance or decorating that needs doing in addition to the path?
regards, Deb

xSparksx

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Re: Income support and Direct Payments

  • on: 06 Mar 2013 11:19AM
We are thinking about doing some decorating. The problem is we've just been too ill to think about having it done. I'm probably iller than I've ever been right now, and Mum's struggling with pain and broken bones and her mental health, and we've just honestly been too exhausted to be able to contemplate the disruption of decorating (it would be the hall, stairs and landing). We have a quote for it; we are going to get it done. We've just been too ill over the last few months to contemplate it.

Have now had the letter from JCP, wanting bank statements from when my savings first went over 5,500, which is going to be really hard to figure out since it's spread over a current account and a savings account, but I suppose I'll just print out statements for the last six months to be safe. They want it back by 18th March and I know in theory I can get that done, it shouldn't be /that/ hard, but I'm just in tears. I'm exhausted at the very thought of it. It's all making me feel like I've done something wrong, and I really don't think I have but I'm just too tired to fight them right now.

KizzyKazaer

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Re: Income support and Direct Payments

  • on: 06 Mar 2013 01:40PM
Hi Sparks, sorry to hear you've had unnecessary extra anxiety from the DWP  >erm<  Six months' worth of bank statements will be fine; that's what I remember we would be asking for in my days as an IS processor, where there was a change in capital over a certain limit (it was a lower limit then).  You've absolutely not done anything wrong, so try and put that thought right out of your mind!  Give yourself a break from it for a couple of days and it won't look so daunting when you're better rested  >thumbsup<

xSparksx

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Re: Income support and Direct Payments

  • on: 06 Mar 2013 03:28PM
Mum called them today and spoke to them, trying to get clarification on how far back the bank statements should go, and also if they really need the social services bank account statements given that /isn't/ my money. They want a year's worth, which is going to be a heck of a lot of paperwork :S and they do want the social services statements because it's money I have access to! I'm really worried that they fundamentally don't grasp how this works. I do have the letter from my social worker but I don't think this is going to be sorted out easily :S

But the person Mum spoke to today did say I shouldn't worry, and that even if I have gone a little over the limit briefly on occasion, the most they'd do is ask for some money back (which wouldn't be much, and of course if I've made a mistake I will happily repay whatever's necessary). So I'm trying not to worry about that. Trying being the operative word!

Thank you, everybody, for being so wonderfully helpful and supportive. I know I'm probably flapping much more than I need to, but this is sort of the last straw after a run of last straws. I've been coping up to now but this has just....broken the balance.

KizzyKazaer

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Re: Income support and Direct Payments

  • on: 06 Mar 2013 05:38PM
A year's worth of statements? - strewth, things have obviously changed then (or somebody is over-complicating where they needn't!)  What a damn nuisance for you - but I do think the letter from the SW will go a long way towards explaining things, and any processor worth their salt would refer to a supervisor or senior decision-maker for guidance.  Which they will find in their own legislation regarding the treatment of Direct Payments....Give them what they want and see what happens - and if you can't get all the paperwork together by their deadline, ask them to extend it!

devine63

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Re: Income support and Direct Payments

  • on: 06 Mar 2013 09:43PM
Hi

TL remember that if necessary you could ask an advocate to help you with this matter,
regards, Deb

Meridi

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Re: Income support and Direct Payments

  • on: 07 Mar 2013 04:11PM
Hi I on direct opayments for care too and do know of this sort of thing happening to other care and DP users.

Evidencing you pay someone for care helps, like payroll details.

Its a pain but basically you have done nothing worng but you do need to spend that money of yours, is your mums bank account near savings limit? if not explore that option ok

xSparksx

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Re: Income support and Direct Payments

  • on: 07 Mar 2013 06:09PM
Thanks, Meridi, I can absolutely do that. I've got a recent invoice from my agency (which I've paid), I'll include a photocopy of that. They can match that up to the SS account bank statements.

We have now booked in some house maintenance stuff (decorating the hall, stairs and landing) for April, which is the soonest the decorators could fit it in.

Mum suggested I buy an electric wheelchair but I can't see I'd get any use of it; it would literally be just to spend money, and I hate pointless spending! which is probably why I'm now in this situation...but I have honestly just been too ill to even do internet shopping. I've needed new underwear for ages but I've been too wiped out to pick anything out! (I have now bought some, heh).

xSparksx

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Re: Income support and Direct Payments

  • on: 09 Mar 2013 01:33PM
I woke up in a panic in the middle of the night, realising that I /can't/ send in an invoice from my care agency - or at least not without a long explanation :S Mum and I both get direct payments, and our social worker has always been absolutely fine with us pooling the care we get - there's no point somebody coming in to heat up my lunch and make me a cup of tea, and then somebody else coming in to do the same for Mum! But the agency contract is in Mum's name, so the invoices are addressed to her, even though I invariably pay them (Mum employs somebody directly for some days a week, who also does some things for me).

If I send a copy of an invoice to JCP, they'll be so utterly confused, even though we have the okay from social services to work the way we do!

What I /can/ send is a letter from my ME clinic; the person I see there has agreed to write a letter 'to whom it may concern' explaining that I've just been too ill to handle my finances. To be honest, I've been struggling with it to the extent that when they asked security questions on Monday - what day is my payment, and how much was my last payment - I literally couldn't remember the answer. All I've been up to doing is glancing at it to make sure the money has actually gone in. So I'm hoping this letter will help a bit. I'm waiting for that to arrive before I send statements in, even if that means I need to call up and ask for an extension.

Sorry to keep flapping about this. I don't know why I've got so anxious. As I said before, I think this is just the last straw. Usually I can keep a handle on my mental health but this has hit me really hard.

KizzyKazaer

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Re: Income support and Direct Payments

  • on: 09 Mar 2013 05:31PM
Sparks, remember your social worker's letter - this will initially verify that you get Direct Payments, so you're halfway there -  and she can always expand on the situation as you've just described it.  She knows the ins and outs of the joint arrangement with your mum, so would probably be the best 'official' person to explain this to the DWP staff - please, give her a call first thing Monday and tell her what the DWP want.  Try and keep it as simple as possible and  >dontpanic<  There's always a way through these things, but it's difficult to see them ourselves sometimes when the old anxiety sets in! 

xSparksx

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Re: Income support and Direct Payments

  • on: 11 Mar 2013 12:10PM
Thanks Kizzy. I've now got the letter from the ME clinic - a very good letter, and I hope it'll help. It's nothing but the truth, which is that I'm almost entirely housebound and haven't had the mental energy to even do online shopping for essentials, or to keep on top of my finances. I've got to download statements from online banking, obviously I don't have up-to-date statements for any of the accounts - the social services one comes every quarter, and although my current account is monthly that only goes up to the end of Feb. My savings account is paperless, so I get online statements. I can do that today, and print them off, and then I can get everything in the most by Wednesday, first class. That way it should get to them by their deadline of 18th March.

I think I'll probably feel better once the stuff is /gone/ - at least that way I've given them all the information and I just have to wait.

Hurtyback

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Re: Income support and Direct Payments

  • on: 11 Mar 2013 04:15PM
Don't forget to ask for proof of posting, Sparks, there is no charge for this.