I started work on November 13th. I have been a productive little bunny since then. Not only have I worked four hours every weekday, but I've also worked hard to disentangle myself from the benefit system. Here's what I've done so far:
Round One: On the day I was offered the job, I phoned the local Jobcentre to tell the Rubbish DEA, and the regional DWP office to tell the Incapacity Benefit people. They told me to tell them in writing, so I typed up a very nice letter. In all these communications, I gave my name, National Insurance Number (NINo) (note for foreign readers: this is like a social security number, and is used to identify you on all government, welfare and taxation systems), address and so on, and explained as clearly as I possibly could, that I wished to cease my Incapacity Benefit claim from November 13th as I had been offered a job. I told them how many hours I would be doing and how much I would get paid.
Round Two: During my first week of work, trying to arrange transport, I spent some time on the phone with the local council. Again, I fully identified myself including NINo to several people, and explained about having been on Incapacity Benefit, and having recently started work.
Round Three: Having got hold of Access To Work, who are part of the DWP/Jobcentre, I gave all my details again, over the phone and in writing on their forms, including NINo, date I started work, rate of pay, etc. I was approved for assistance with transport to and from work.
Round Four: The Useless DEA had referred me to Remploy back in October, which would have been great if the sole representative of Remploy in this area hadn't been off sick himself. Well, he phoned me back last week and told me that he could get me some extra money - £150 tax-free as an incentive/bonus for anyone who gets off Incapacity Benefit and into work. Fantastic, thought I, and once again gave my full ID and circumstances, over the phone, and again on a form with DWP all over it.
Plus, of course, I've blogged every step of the way. I haven't advertised my identity too much on here but it wouldn't be too difficult for anyone who put their mind to it, to figure out who I am.
Which is all a rather long-winded way of saying, I haven't exactly tried to conceal the fact of my working from anyone, least of all the DWP. No one can accuse me of attempted fraud, or working on the quiet, or trying to hide the fact that I got a job.
This makes it all the more concerning that, since my start-date of 13th November, two lots of Incapacity Benefit plus of course that famous £10 Christmas Bonus have been paid into my bank account.
And that means that my cold-ridden bunged-up self gets to spend tomorrow morning on the phone to the DWP, AGAIN. Joy.
Phoned the DWP Muppet Show. Gave details. Explained situation as a timeline. May have worried the call-taker by making it clear that I keep notes. The overpayment of four weeks of long-term-rate Incapacity Benefit is a sum that can't just be written off as a rounding error (well, in a national sense it could, but) and so there will be an investigation. A decision-maker will determine whether I have to pay the money back (probably) or how much of it I have to pay back, and also whose fault it was.
STEVE: Surely they'll just say it was your fault, you forgot to tell the post-boy in the foreign embassy or something.
A reasonable assumption, but I have a reason to doubt it. (my emphasis)
I am a Disability Employment Adviser with a responsibility to support people back to work who have a disability.
Blah blah blah appointment in October,
The Useless DEA
Which I'm taking to mean that, if there's anyone I didn't know I should tell, it's her fault. She is my named liason with the Jobcentre during the Back to Work effort. She is claiming me as a KPI, I was on her caseload, then I entered employment for more than 16 hours a week. She has a self-declared responsibility to support me.
I'll probably have to pay back the money and I'm not complaining about that at all, as it's money I'm not entitled to and didn't ask for. But damned if I'll take responsibility for ANY of their screwups.