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To want to shop my stepdaughter?

(103 Posts)
nannym Sun 22-Jan-12 07:46:29

I am really fighting to stop myself from contacting the benefits agency and reporting my stepdaughter for benefit fraud.For years now she has claimed every benefit available including job seekers allowance while working for cash in hand, plus housing benefit and single parent allowance while living with someone who was also working. This has always angered me but have kept quiet for the sake of DH. Now however she has turned on him and really upset him by being abusive when he finally asked her if she intended living on benefits all her life. am I wrong to want to hurt her as she has hurt him? Advice appreciated please.

Nsube Sun 22-Jan-12 07:53:03

I think it is hugely unfair on genuine claimants for any fraud to take place. You could just ask them to investigate, and, if she is being fraudulent, it might be the incentive she needs to get back to work. Presumably if she works for cash, there is work available.

bagitha Sun 22-Jan-12 07:53:58

If you think what she is doing is wrong and there is something you can do to correct that wrong, then you should do it, in my opinion, unless you think doing that will cause more wrong. Not easy. I would not do anything in order to hurt her, but if you think what she is doing is intrinsically wrong then you have a duty to the rest of society off whom it would appear, from what you've said, that she is sponging. Without knowing the details, I couldn't say more than that. I hope you can resolve the issue without deliberately hurting anyone.

Sorry if that sounds pompous! That's not my intention. Good luck.

JessM Sun 22-Jan-12 08:14:30

Our mate Carol will be able to tell you the likely consequences of this in terms of penalties. I think you need to be clear in your mind what is likely to happen if she gets "done" for this. Carol used to work with offenders.

Butternut Sun 22-Jan-12 08:34:03

I have difficulties accepting this type of particular fraud. However, before seeking to hurt because you've been hurt, take a long hard look at your reasons for doing so and the possible consequences to you and your family relationships if you do decide to inform the authorities.
A very difficult position to be in, and I wish you all the best. Good luck with it all.

Carol Sun 22-Jan-12 08:42:32

Good morning! Yes, in the last few years before I retired I managed a probation hostel for female offenders, many of whom committed benefit fraud as well as serious offences for which they had been imprisoned. We had regular dialogue with the benefits agency when we were aware of ongoing fraud, and our information was always acted upon. The result for the offenders was that they would be called in to reassess their claim, often interviewed under caution, and the outcome was very mixed. Some would be required to repay a small amount each week, some had benefits stopped whilst the claim was investigated, a couple were prosecuted for benefit fraud, and others had no penalty, other than an invitation to renew their efforts to seek work. It all depends on what information is given and what can be proved, and what entitlements they legally have.

In the case of your daughter nannym I would take into account the fact she is a single parent and how confident she is about the relationship she is in, because many young single parents fear losing an income if their 'partner' is not reliable. Many female offenders commit benefit fraud because of their experience of having their income disrupted. She may have lost confidence in her ability to get through a job interview, and so work for cash in hand. She could be entitled to housing benefit even if she is working - it all depends how much she is earning. Many women in this situation earn a pittance and don't realise they could be claiming benefits and working perfectly legally.

Or....she could just be greedy and lazy, and have got complacent about this lifestyle that needs little effort to keep the money rolling in. You will know whether she is one or the other, or somewhere in between. If she is prosecuted for benefit fraud, she will be required to repay some or all, if her income allows, and is likely to receive a sentence of Community Service/Unpaid Work, sometimes with probation supervision attached. Having a child doesn't make her immune from prison, but she is unlikely to be imprisoned for a first offence, unless we are talking tens of thousands. Ironically, prosecution for benefit fraud often has such a devastating effect on young women that they sink further into that benefits rut and continue to need to claim.

Finally, I would say think about the consequences of informing on her - will she know it was you, will that affect contact with your grandchild, what other repercussions could there be? If you do it anonymously, will her life be so seriously affected that your relationship will flounder anyway? Lots to think about. Can you help her to get out of the benefits rut and motivate her to get back on her own two feet? Hope that helps.

Faye Sun 22-Jan-12 08:51:44

I was employed by an agency that advocated for people on benefits. I believe if you are thinking of reporting your step daughter, you should be very careful as she could spend time in jail if she is doing the wrong thing. She actually might not be on all those benefits or she may be able to claim single parent and housing benefits at the same time. Most dob ins are usually giving the wrong information anyway.

I would not report her in retaliation and if it is bothering you, you should speak to her. She is after all your step daughter and you husband's own daughter. You might cause irreparable hurt to your step daughter and her children.

Pennysue Sun 22-Jan-12 09:22:27

What a difficult position to be in - I do not know whether I could report a relative, because of the long term consequences, but I could and would report someone who, so far as I am concerned, is taking the p..s out of the rest of us.

I liken benefit fraud to theft and when I worked with someone who was claiming wrongly and thought it was a "laugh" having one over on the "government" I pointed out to her that it was US she was thieving from not the "government" the only money the "government" had was via taxes etc. I also asked her how she would feel if someone went into her purse or that of her Mother and took out money, which in my view is exactly what she was doing. I left the company 2 weeks later, but heard via the grape vine a few months later that she was being investigated.

P S I do know what it is like to be really struggling having survived on agricultural wages for 5 years when first married. One time getting to a Thursday and wondering what the heck I was going to feed my 2 children; I made a toad in the hole with one sausage chopped into the batter and I went without.

harrigran Sun 22-Jan-12 09:49:20

Needing to do the right thing sometimes backfires. Although you say your DH is annoyed with his DD, if you report her he will probably realise it is you and it could result in bad feeling.
Nobody likes a benefit cheat but could she be just misinformed ?

Carol Sun 22-Jan-12 09:50:20

I think that, in establishing a state system that tries to ensure no-one is left to go hungry, we have created a dependency culture that is open to abuse. Like Pennsue and I'm sure many others of us, when I was first married in the early seventies, I lived on fresh air for part of the week and some of the meals we had were beyond the imagination. One memorable evening meal was a flan case made of Smash potato, with a herby, savoury custard filling of 2 eggs, milk and dried herbs, with half a carrot and a tin of mushy peas - that left the cupboard empty till payday next day, except for formula milk. Next morning, I walked to my mum's four miles away with baby in pram for a late breakfast, and my husband waited patiently for his pay packet and then bought a sandwich.

Nowadays, we would have had child tax credits, and perhaps some form of income supplement, but we did it ourselves and we were motivated to do our best by living as cheaply as possible. However, I wouldn't want to go back to the time when I was worried sick about us having enough to eat. We just need to get the balance right.

greenmossgiel Sun 22-Jan-12 10:08:03

nannym, I don't think I would report her. Would you report her if she was your own daughter? If you do report her, how would your husband feel? He may become so worried about the whole situation, and then you would have to worry about him as well. The girl knows how her dad feels about it all, so what about approaching her on your own and having another chat about it. Perhaps you could find out, without being too intrusive, how things are for her financially. The fact that she has children may have put her in the sort of situation where she accepts money from the easiest sources, because that way she knows that money is still coming in. I'm not trying to make excuses for her, believe me. Having been on the bread-line myself when the children were tiny in the early 70's ('cornflour mould' for them to eat, and chopping up the table to burn on the fire in the winter...), brings back tough memories of hunger and cold that I wouldn't have wanted my own family to go through. Good luck.

Carol Sun 22-Jan-12 10:24:43

green it strikes me there's lots of us that managed on fresh air and dust in the late sixties and seventies when we were just starting out on our own. I'm going to start another thread for memories of what we did to manage in those austere times.

JessM Sun 22-Jan-12 10:51:04

Thought you would have lots of pertinent things to say carol. I would add that you are allowed to earn a small amount per week without affecting entitlement. And that it is very hard (or even, in some parts of the country, impossible) to find regular employment that fits around childcare and pays more than benefits. People can find themselves several pounds a week worse off. At one time the CAB used to have a computer programme that would work it all out for them because it was so complicated. They probably still do.

nuttynorah Sun 22-Jan-12 11:14:49

As a stepmum myself, I would not report her. She would probably guess that either you or your husband had done it, since your husband has made his feelings plain to her quite recently. She may well break off contact with her father and this would cause him more grief than any argument they've had. If he knew that you had informed on her, he might blame you for the estrangement.
It's difficult for you to see your husband hurt but you have to think of all the possible consequences of reporting her.
Good luck!

nannym Sun 22-Jan-12 11:18:02

Thanks to everyone who has replied, and especially so to Carol for the benefit of her experience. I have decided, having calmed down now, to have a word with my stepdaughter and see if she can explain to me why she thinks it's so clever to be claiming for so much when she and her partner are more than capable of earning enough to live on. Sadly I know that it is greed that makes her put in all these claims, the last scam she was going to try was to get her youngest daughter assessed as having ADHD so that she could claim a carer's allowance. This one I think fell through, but I hope you can see why I get so angry.
I will warn her that I am fully aware of what she is doing, and if she doesn't stop it then I will get in touch with the benefits agency. I have already told DH what I am going to do and actually have his blessing. His words were, "I couldn't do it, but I'm glad someone is" Thanks again to everyone.

Carol Sun 22-Jan-12 11:42:23

nannym that's just reminded me of how the word is spread amongst young benefits claimants - there was a spate of claiming DLA is my hostel until we realised that new residents were being nobbled as soon as they arrived and were introduced to seasoned offenders who knew the benefit ropes. We were able to nip it in the bud by ferrying them into my office as soon as they rang the doorbell, and warning them that we would be speaking to benefits offices about each and every claim, especially if they tried to claim DLA and were not entitled.

Your stepdaughter most likely associates with peers who claim various benefits and will share their working knowledge of what they can get if they make certain claims. Does she have a lifestyle where she chats to others in the same situation? It's so hard to encourage young benefit claimants out of that cosy world of popping in and out of each others' houses, watching Jeremy Kyle, exchanging intelligence on what works with Jobseekers and Benefits staff and so on.

A few years ago, I knew of a woman who was suspected of fabricating illness in her child (Munchausens by Proxy as it was then called) but what she was doing was finding a way to make an extra claim for caring for the child - she went to extraordinary lengths and nearly had her child removed for his own safety, till she confessed to having debts to a loan shark and was trying to get money to pay them off.

JessM Sun 22-Jan-12 14:27:27

nannym I think you are still pretty angry. My advice is to do some more calming down, quite a lot more, before you decide what to do, as your current plan may well lead to more upset for your husband.
Ask yourself what outcome you are hoping for and whether this is realistic.

petallus Sun 22-Jan-12 15:55:21

Don't do it!

GoldenGran Sun 22-Jan-12 16:32:37

No don't do it, step relationships are delicate enough without that to contend with. Could your DH talk to her ?

nannym Mon 23-Jan-12 07:12:06

Again, my thanks to all who took the time to reply. Just to let you know that I spoke to my SD yesterday and DH and I have offered to care for DGD if SD manages to get work. In return she will stop claiming housing benefit. Fingers crossed!!

Carol Mon 23-Jan-12 08:01:22

That's a great start nannym. Hope it all works out well x

Joan Mon 23-Jan-12 08:55:17

So do I.

it is very hard to manage on benefits, but declaring income often leaves you with more than your realise. I used to be a family day care lady here in Australia, in the early 1980s. It was the best work I could get to do at home and look after my own children as well as the day care kids.

One day my husband was suddenly made redundant so he claimed unemployment benefit, declaring my income. They halved what I earned, because they reckoned expenses cost me a lot, then let me keep the next A$20, then took 50c in the dollar. In the end, I lost hardly anything.

While he was looking for work, my husband volunteered to help paint the day care centre building. They were running on a shoestring and could only afford the paint, not the labour. He was a trained painter and decorator so he organised the working bee, and showed the volunteers how to do a good job. It turned out great, and he told the bloke at Centrelink (our Social Security) what he was doing. The Centrelink bloke told him to beware of our neighbours, because someone had reported him for working!!! He said they had taken no notice because they knew our story, and knew all about the Day Care centre.

So anyone on benefits and also working should beware - anyone could dob them. We had no enemies, though there was a bit of the old 'anti-pom' around, and some jealousy because we were a little bit middle class in our ways, in a very working class area. We were never snobs, but we did stuff others didn't, like eating at the table, listening to classical music, and having a house full of books.

petallus Mon 23-Jan-12 14:04:50

One of the problems in coming off benefits and into work if the work is low paid, is that here no allowance is made for travelling and other expenses. Someone I know managed to find a job in retail 4 hours a day at £6.50 an hour and when calculations were being made as to how much he could keep of his earnings, his £12 a day train fare was not taken into account so he was much worse off than when he was on benefits and couldn't afford to buy food. Not only that but there is often a gap of several weeks between first pay packet and benefits being stopped. There was something about it on the radio this morning. nannym hope it goes well with your SD.

bagitha Mon 23-Jan-12 14:14:35

Would a person in that position not still qualify for some benefits? Also, £12 a day is a lot. Did he have to travel a long way?

absentgrana Mon 23-Jan-12 14:27:38

I think it's also the loss of indirect benefits that can cause problems – free dental care, free prescriptions, even reduced charges for using the swimming pool.