Thursday, 27 September 2012

£50 fine for errors

Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to face fines of at least £50 for "preventable" errors in their benefits claims.

It would seem that people are up in arms about this fine of £50. So let's see why ...

If you are claiming state benefits, and do not inform the DWP of changes to your circumstances, you may be fined £50.

Changes of circumstances are any of the following:
  • You got married or formed a civil partnership.
  • You got divorced or your civil partnership was dissolved.
  • You became widowed or a surviving civil partner.
  • Someone else you are claiming for has died.
  • You separated from your partner or moved in with someone.
  • Someone else moved in or out of your household.
  • You changed your name.
  • You changed your address.
  • You changed your Post Office.
  • You changed your account details.
  • Your income has changed.
  • Your pension has changed.
  • You have changed the number of hours you work, or the amount you earn has changed.
  • You are ill and cannot attend the Jobcentre.
  • You have started a further education course.
  • You are going away from home, for any reason.
  • Your savings go up to £5,500 or more if your savings of more than £6,000 go up or down (We may need to see a bank or building society statement).
  • You have remortgaged your property r taken out a home improvement loan.
  • Your home loan payments have stopped.
  • You had an emergency that stopped you attending the Jobcentre.
  • You have had any other changes you think we need to know about.
You can download the DWP Change of Circumstances form on the following link. I am assuming you can use the same form for all benefits. It is ridiculously difficult to find information on this. It seems that the time you have in which to inform the DWP of a change of circumstance varies according to which benefit(s) you are receiving, and which change has happened. As such, I would say that it's simply advisable to update the DWP as soon as you can.

If you do not update the DWP, you are essentially committing fraud. As such I personally consider it fair for them to fine people. I am hoping that they are writing to people to check that they are correct about a change of circumstances before issuing fines though, and that they are being sensitive in cases where a loved one has passed away. However, I do not think that this 'change' is something people should be getting their knickers in a knot over.

The title of the article is 'Benefits; thousands face £50 fine for errors'. What a stupid title! It is not errors at all. The word 'errors' makes it sounds as if they will be finding people who are applying for benefits, for errors they are making on their application forms. Many people have simply read the title of this piece and reacted with alarm. They don't know what errors they could be penalised for making on their forms. Spelling errors? Getting the date wrong? Thankfully none, but sadly, so many people simply read the title of a piece and react rather than reading the whole article.

I'm now going to sit and watch the misinformation spread.

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