Harassment by the DWP

I am publishing a recording of a “compliance interview” I had at my local Job Centre in September 2016 after someone had anonymously reported me for benefit fraud, despite a threat of legal action if I did so. I think people need to hear it. I know my situation is not nearly as bad as many on benefits, who have to go through far worse, but I have the facility to deal with it, whereas many others do not. And I am not looking for sympathy – just shining a light on what goes on.

Before listening, please read these rules from the DWP about gifts and donations. I was unaware of these at the time of the interview.

screen-shot-2016-09-13-at-10-25-39In the recording you will hear the 2 interviewers constantly referring to my donations as income. When the DWP later realised that I hadn’t committed benefit fraud, they found another way to have a go. At 28.05 on the recording, I am heard to say that my pension recently went up, because I was being wrongly taxed on it. On the basis of this the DWP have fined me £50 and stated that they have overpaid me over £200. I have given them evidence that the “overpayments” were actually for 5 months and amount to £68. Having checked my records back to 2013 I find I didn’t tell them when my pension went down either, so in fact they have underpaid me.  They have disregarded this evidence and stated that I will have to appeal their decision. I am now out of time to do this, because I have been putting it off, but I will make a late application and explain the delay is due to health reasons.

One thing I forget during the interview was that at the time I was crowdfunding for my mortgage I was not actually on benefits. I had been kicked off after an Atos assessment and received no money at all for 4 months. I won on appeal.

Here’s the recording. I have edited out the names of the interviewers and one short section about a third party.