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Incompetent DWP staff intentionally defraud claimants

We often criticise councillors for seeking election for all the wrong reasons. We are therefore pleased to publish a report from a Poole councillor who sought election because he genuinely wanted to right wrongs. We salute him for that and hope he will keep up the good work.

Our correspondent writes ...

Not all alleged overpayments are the result of fraud. In fact, official error in making overpayments is inevitable - as discovered by the Commons Work and Pensions Select Committee in 2007, Public Accounts Committee, and revealed in several internal Department of Work and Pensions reports since 2004. These same reports found a complete lack of confidence in DWP staff being able to provide accurate information to customers and colleagues. This includes staff intentionally withholding information and guidance, and/or providing inadequate information and/or providing acceptable levels of service to customers.

This has resulted in at least 800 cases of official error a year, as well as oral and written misdirection - sources: Office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration, Audit Office report 2006, Citizens Advice Bureau.

In addition, there is the problem of DWP and benefits staff providing inaccurate and incomplete information which was still not addressed after a Comptroller and Auditor General Report of 2000. A 2005 internal DWP report still found staff continuing to mislead customers and this had still not been addressed by the time the Public Accounts Committee reported last year.

As a local Councillor, I deal with many overpayment cases clearly caused by administrative errors by DWP, Jobcentre Plus, and other benefits staff. My local Citizens Advice Bureau is swamped with more similar cases.

The DWP is consistently failing to address this problem and instead is blindly prosecuting innocent people who been misled and incorrectly advised in order to cover up its own systematic failings.

Justice demands that we do not confuse the drive to crack down on the truly fraudulent with attempts to cover up widespread failings in the benefits system.

Cllr D Martin, 
Poole, Dorset 

Editorial comment:

James PurnellIt would be nice to think the Rt. Hon. James Purnell (left) might read this article. But if he was doing his job properly he would already know all about the problems detailed in the numerous reports mentioned above and would haul the Permanent Secretary for the Department for Work and Pensions, Sir Leigh Lewis KCB, (right) over the coals and warn him that if he didn't get his house in order he would be out on his neck.Leigh Lewis


Regrettably, this never happens in such circles. These toffs who run government organisations are selected for who they know, not what they know. They generally have no idea what happens at grass root levels and don't really care. They are more interested in protecting their enormous salaries and gold-plated pensions.

Visitors' Comments

Graham Cook, Bognor Regis writes:

I have been fighting the DWP since 3 June, when the DWP stopped my Incapacity Benefit. I am a genuine disability claimant, yet all I see around me is drug dealers, capable workers and alcoholics receiving maximum benefits (including care allowance, which I have never had).
I have been living on crisis loans since June and this is nowhere near enough for me to survive in a stable condition. I would be very grateful if you could supply me with some information on how I can really complain or further my case.

Editorial Comment:

I think many of us see instances where genuine claimants are denied benefits while dropouts and immigrants seem to get everything that is on offer. If you have exhausted the official complaints procedures then your remaining choices seem to be a complaint to the ombudsman and a letter to your MP.

Emma Lester, Bournemouth writes:

I have been searching the whole web looking for something like your website. I have a huge problem with DWP. I have been off work since Jan 08 after a LLETZ procedure (Large Loop Excision of the Transformation Zone), feeling too unwell to return to work. In September 2008 I was diagnosed with FIBROMYALGIA (causes pain and stiffness in the muscles, ligaments and tendons but not the joints). After suffering all the symptoms, along with asthma, irritable bowels, severe dizzyness, depression, and migraines 2-3 times a week, I'm unable to get out of bed until the migraine has passed.
I was eventually called in for a medical examination for incapacity benefit. Not only was the doctor unprofessional with his comments/compliments on my looks, he did not listen to me at all. Noting all the wrong answers and giving decision makers a wrong report about myself!! My benefit stopped. I appealed, requesting a 2nd medical with a different doctor. This request was ignored! I am now facing a tribunal with wrong appeal information! Please help. I'm really down and stressed. Don't know what to do.

Editorial Comment:

You should really take this up with your Member of Parliament. As Conservative MPs for Bournemouth, Tobias Ellwood or John Butterfill should be keen to help as the next general election is not too far away and they need your vote to oust New Labour. Please let me know how you get on.

Andrew Harris, Manchester writes:

I have NHL Cancer Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Rheumatoid Arthritis and, thanks to the damage from 14 lots of chemo, I had a double angioplasty after two heart attacks. I had to sell my home because of debt so I moved in with my ex-wife while I wait to be re-housed, which will never happen because I am a white English Christian who's always pushed at the end of every queue.
Anyway, because I moved in with my ex-wife I was made to sign a declaration by the DWP Gestapo at Roberts house in Altrincham, Cheshire. This declaration was so I could keep my benefits separate from my ex-wife's benefits. And guess what happened? The Gestapo have taken away my Severe Disablement Benefit and their excuse for doing me out of this SDA was because I am no longer living alone.
I have tried in vain to find out if this is an illegal action against me but I can't find a law that confirms what they are saying to me about this. Can anyone tell me or send me a link that shows these bastards are liars because I'd love nothing more than to issue a lawsuit for criminal deception/fraud against these scumbags.

Editorial Comment:

Andrew, Take a look at I will pass your email to Martin Hossack for advice.

Roy, Stourbridge writes:

18 months ago I was interviewed under caution by DWP and local authority benefit fraud staff. During the interview I was threatened that my home would be taken from me and subsequently I wouldn't be allowed access to my children - "single separated father with shared residency" - if I didn't tell them what they wanted to hear. After the interview I stupidly (because of fear of their threats) wrote to them making a false statement of admission.
Almost a year has passed and they are now taking me to court. My solicitor thinks I should plead guilty even though, after hearing back the taped interview under caution, I realised the tape had been edited to omit the said threats. I'm sure my solicitor thinks I've lost the plot but some things you just don't forget or are even mistaken about. My trial starts tomorrow - 20th April 2009 - and my solicitor thinks I'll get 18 months.

Editorial Comment:

As we know from the lies told recently to the Tory MP, Damien Green, and the Austrian tourists who took a photograph of a London bus, these people make threats based on laws they have devised to suit themselves. The only way to beat them is to resist their threats and challenge their statements. Demand to know what laws they are operating under.

G Jones, Hertfordshire, writes:

I am so sorry to hear everyone's stories above. While my story is miniscule in comparison, I thought I'd share it anyway as it's just ANOTHER example of the ludicrous system we have to deal with.
As a hard working British citizen (always had a job since my first paper round aged 13), I decided to spend a few months working abroad following my graduation from university. I had a serious accident whilst travelling which left me with a badly broken leg requiring numerous pins and screws and brought my travels to an early end. I had nowhere to live on return to the UK and so moved in with my (then) girlfriend who was earning a pittance as a student nurse.
I called to claim disability allowance for just a few months until I got back on my feet but as I was seen to be 'cohabiting' with my "partner" I was not entitled to any form of benefit.
I called again, this time saying I was single. The girl pulled up my details and said I wasn't to which I said, "I dumped my girlfriend 5 minutes ago and I now sleep on an airbed in the kitchen". I was then told that I had not paid enough TAX to claim... enough tax? ENOUGH TAX? WHAT ABOUT THE ALCOHOLICS SITTING ON THE PARK BENCH EVERY DAY?!! What about the 16 year old single mums? What about asylum seekers? They've probably NEVER paid any TAX!
I could not move more than 1 step without severe nerve pains and so could not even attempt to claim job seekers allowance. The only "help" on offer was from the banks in the form of HIGH interest loans and credit cards which I am still repaying to this day... 6 years on!
Thankfully, I made a full recovery about 5-6 months later and was able to find a job very quickly. But I was naive enough to think that by being honest with them, I would receive what the system was designed for ... to help those in need. All I have is a bitter taste in my mouth and a whole lot of debt.
My heart goes out to anyone unfortunate enough to be treated with the same heartless neglect. As well as this site, you may find this of use -

Editorial Comment:

Obviously you look and sound like you might have the potential to become one of middle-England's most valuable people, i.e. indigenous British with a propensity to work hard and contribute to the country's future. Unfortunately, under New Labour, there is no place for you on the benefits system. That's only for wastrels and scroungers who have no intention of working. Your duty is to work hard and support them. After all, Gordon is relying on their vote and you can help to keep more of his supporters on the dole.
But you do have a choice. Why not consider a life of crime? Join your local labour party and try to get yourself elected as an MP.

CHAMP44 of London writes:

My friend's severely disabled and has many other health problems on top, recently being diagnosed with diabetes and a blood clot on her brain.

The DWP stopped her Incapacity Benefit and DLA a lot in 2008. 2009 shes had 3-4 payments. She goes days without food, then friends are feeding her or giving her a little money to buy some. Last year another friend was paying a lot of her bills, but they sadly died.

The DWP told her the money they've stopped won't be refunded, I called it, 'legalised theft,' she agreed.

Recently she got free legal advice and the solicitor's still on the case and told her stopping her benefit's illegal. She got a DWP letter saying that as she's taking them to court they've stopped her benefit, how can you stop something when its already been stopped?! The solicitor's still working on it but no doubt the DWP will drag it out, for as long as possible before it even gets to court, which it might not as the press will be there and they won't want this case public knowledge.

Last year her Dr, Hand O.T. and Plastic Surgeon told them several times she can't work. Since being under a Neurology Consultant the DWP want him to contact them, I said. "They want to waste his time as well, " she agreed.

She's still grieving for her mum and has all these problems too.

The DWP really are heartless and something should be done about the way they treat disabled people. I think the ones responsible should get the sack.

Editorial Comment:

Unfortunately, these people rarely get sacked. The Civil (or Uncivil) Service is a job for life!

Douglas Hannibal, Harlow, Essex writes:

in my case dwp tribunals and their informants are the real fraudsters for taking the ill peoples money away which happened to me, as i also got blackmailed at tribunal to go away if i didn't they would look into other benefits which they did and tried to take the whole lot away.

most of my benefits have since been taken away it started in 2003 after 17 years of claiming industrial injuries which dwp agreed to . then in 2003 after a home medical the percentage came down from 30 percent to 5 percent because i appealed it they then took the whole lot away even the remaining 5 percent and said i didn't even do the injury at work even though i have paperwork stating from the medical examiner i still have an outstanding injury from work and disease.

then in 2005 neighbour whose wife works for dwp took photographs of me walking to a car this resulted in going to crown court Chelmsford statements from dwp wift and her husband were withdrawn because questions were going to be asked of their illegal activities as her husband is on careers dwp dropped the case and also i saw 2 forensic medical specialists that i fit and still fit the full criteria of benefits yet dwp have not reinstated these benefits and still require approx 38,000 from me even though witness statements were not credible . also i put in again for benefit i received back the full mobility component but low care, but was told not to rock the boat and appeal for the full care again, as far as tribunals go my wife and i walked out of a tribunal because panel are uneducated as far as medical and mental health issues are concerned and was told i cannot be disabled as i own a mobile phone we are willing now to expose the dwp tribunals and the system.

Peter Wilson, Espoo, Finland writes:

I am Peter Wilson brother of Teresa Nissen who won Talk Talk Digital Heroes award for the South East at the end of last year, she was the office manager employed by The Access Corporation, a support center for disabled persons. At the end of last year she received an award at The house of Lords.

The reason i am writing to you is to tell you about the terrible things that have happened to my sister since then, much caused by incompetence or corruption (or both) in The Department of Work and Pensions. I am not sure if you are aware but The Access Corporation (and i understand many other charities, not certain but i believe 36 others) are under investigation by The Police and The Dept for work and Pensions for fraud. (The very people who are involved get to investigate?)

It has been mentioned that Barry Brookes has defrauded maybe as much as 2 million pounds by making fraudulent claims, by forgery, we are convinced that he has done this with the help of corrupt workers in the DWP.

My sister has done nothing wrong, she has acted with the highest commitment to help disabled people. It is thought that Barry Brooks and his friend have been very busy forging her signature, and also care workers and many disabled (How can DWP not realise this? Are they blind, stupid, or involved?) I believe my sister was set up by Barry Brooks who planned this some years ago when he met her.

My sister has had a nervous breakdown, as some disabled she has helped have had their benefits cut and been harassed by The DWP (The Gestapo!) close to the point of suicide, vulnerable people, disabled people, are being hurt by them, it is a scandal!. All this has been a terrible strain on my sister because she cared deeply for those people, it was a job she put her heart into, now that has been destroyed.

Barry Brookes is no (Sir) we know this as Sunday Times journalists have investigated him, he is behind his door stating "No comment!" he has not even been charged yet by the Police as far as I am aware, he is still free and living it up. The Sunday Times has now told my sister that they will not publish the story they planned, we believe that they have been pressured by the DWP, as they want this kept quiet, my sister has told the DWP she believes they are involved and they responded with threats against her and her husband.

Barry Brookes has four expensive cars outside his house and a Rolls Royce hidden at his friend's home, multiple bank accounts and companies, money hidden abroad we believe, my sister and her husband have nothing but debts and harassment from the DWP, its just not fair.

If you cannot help with this please could you advise me who could help?

Editorial Comment:

The information below from the Met Police may be of some consolation to Mr Wilson (above).

Colin Jelliff of London (from a Met Police email address) writes:

Further to the letter from Peter Wilson regarding Barry Brooks, please note that Barry Brooks was convicted of Fraud and sentenced to 8 years in prison at Southwark Crown Court on Friday 31 August 2012.
His co-defendant, Derek Arnold, also received 8 years. An asset confiscation order has been placed on them so the houses and cars will all be seized.
The total amount of the fraud was 1.88m.

Kyron of Sandwell writes:

I have heard and seen the fallout from governments welfare reform and experienced it first hand. And read stories from the internet about the DWP's incompetence.

My Story Visually impaired professional recently put onto a scheme called FND but most people call it (P.O.E.T) Pick On Easiest Target. The booklet was impossible to read being visually impaired no large print copies kept at jobcentres. I was told to sign for it even though i stated I couldn't read it. I then received a telephone call from a so called 3rd party provider. Stated to them I was visually impaired, so the following day had two letters and booklets in small print, telephoned the office and they didn't have the decency to contact me back. Met with job centre manager and he apologised profusely and provided me with a large print copy.

27th January I even had to phone them for directions to get to the office as they didn't see fit to contact me any further. They were rude and intimidating. It is a very long and convoluted story, I was actually looking for a place to name and shame a few companies that are looking for slave labor well actually forced labour

Graham Jennings, Doncaster writes:

these are very good readers

I have been fighting dwp since 2001/2010 for supposedly they state they have paid me to much Ib in overpayment. I assume but can't be sure their is no evident proof from dwp. I am getting deducted 22.00 per fortnight out of my benefit I have sent them numerous letters phone calls asking them to give me a breakdown on all moneys.

The deducting dates occurred and most importantly evidence why they are claiming back overpayment. But they fob me off with answers like I was working at the time I replied I never worked and claimed benefits. Always filled back of signing on card in the dates I would be starting work, no evidence of sicknotes. Got letter from dwp stating I don't have to send in any more sicknotes their satisfied with their investigations sort of my GP.

This one makes me laugh dwp staff replied back in my telephone conversation with her anyway you paid half back it soon comes down this is why we deduct money from your benefit. Yeah maybe but I confessed you have no right to in the first instance, sorry but, we have every right. We can chase people for payments that's been overpaid all the time and will continue to do so until the debt is paid off. I said right I will appeal against your decision at tribunal hearing I did guess what they told me by letter format I am out of time limit no tribunal would take my appeal on. Now don't know where to go next could I challenge them to give evidence in court to claim my monies back. That is rightfully mine what they have stolen all these years from my IB.

Sarah of Gravesend writes:

It's disturbing more so that Gvmnt spending on Atos is 80m, (tribunals ?). & the DWP's 'private sector involvement' is taking 4.6bn annually out of the DWP kitty, I'm with a both mental/physical dysfunction symptoms, due to 7yr addictive medication error/cover up that has had (almost all GPs, after i complained) writing non valid sick certs.

9th Dec '09, my benefits just stopped. I spent months of phoning & writing to dwp/jcp. Nobody could tell me why? March '10 i contacted my MP, 2 weeks later i was phoned by DWP. They paid me 75 back pay So tax/rent owed is still 4 figures, i owe to friends that have helped me. After the 75 back pay, i had to wait till July b4 getting any benefit bcz Drs have been lying, writing negative referrals & deny me my files.

Its all illegal but to prove? I'll have to pay to obtain my files that i can't afford, negligence claims of no win no fee expect the files up front. I went to the nhs PCT who only offer a 'chat resolve' what is the insanity of this? D.O.H say it's not for them to legally explore, DWP say its a health matter. no proof no benefit.. Atos,... I wont go into 'that' (she was a class A b****, wrote 'addict' on my report. neglected to say prescriptive) i have no means to pay anything & scraping along on what i can. Its a sickening & deliberated means to drive us all into early graves-its not about saving because its costing more to bully ( Atos writes us off the tribunals put an average 80% back on due to evidentially unfit) it makes no sense to do this to anyone.

Kelvin Hughes of Wakefield writes:

I totally agree with what you say. The biggest problem in trying to expose benefit frausters is that when you report them to the relevent department it takes so long for any investigation even to begin.

"Many men stumble across the truth ... but most manage to pick themselves up and continue as if nothing had happened."

Winston S Churchill

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