Compliance Interview rights / concerns (ESA, PIP)

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I'm on ESA and PIP due to severe mental health problems. I live in England and am single. A friend typed this up for me as I'm unable to manage this type of thing usually, but I'm really worried and desparate for some advice.

A week ago I had to attend a Compliance Interview at the Job Centre. When I got there it turned out they thought I'd had too much savings in the past, and they wanted to see bank statements. Turns out it was their mistake and the bank statements show I'm in the clear. However, during the interview the Officer became extremely unpleasant and aggressive, questioning me about my living situation. They then insisted that I'd have to come back for another interview.

I'm presently homeless, only just got a raise in benefit which will enable me to sort out a place, so they are having a go at me for having too much savings to be homeless- even though I haven't had a chance to sort anything out. They then started to rant about how a friend who I stay with occasionally and am very close to must be my partner (even though we're a male and female and both gay), and then insisted I must return for another interview. The whole process took a big toll on my mental health and has set me back majorly both in terms of my recovery and sorting my living situation.

My main question is, do I have the right to bring a friend into the interview with me? Just to provide emotional support. Do they have the right to refuse that? I am trying to get an 'advocate' from Mind sorted, but it might be too short notice.

Also, although I've got nothing to hide (as the evidence in my bank accounts shows), I'm very worried about how confused I get about details and keeping track of things- in my last interview it seemed that they were trying to trip me up constantly. I don't want to be in trouble for fraud because I get confused! Can they take my benefits away?

Any advice at all would be so helpful.

Thankyou very much

bones

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8 Replies

  • Posted

    Hi, yes you can have a friend or a career of family member with you at the assessment. about your savings.you need to check what the law says . 
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  • Posted

    Bones this is awfull and shouldnt have happened, yes take someone with you and if needed to speak up for you too. How they expect people to save to help themselves and them bully them for having to much savings is beyond belief.  

    The fact you say you have mental problems i think they would exspect you had someone with you and understanadably to so. 

    Have you had the date in yet for your second interview? Could you say your willing to have another interview but only when you have sorted out someone to come with you which may take time.

    Try not to worry as you say you have nothing to hide but i can well understand how this must have been making you feel. what was their reason for wanting you back again do you know?

    Sue 

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  • Posted

    Hi how awful for you and I do sympathise with you.  I used to work in the JCP and and if a male and female are sharing together,  you have to prove that you are not in a relationship.  A lot of people unfortunately do lie about this so they have to find out the situation.   To prove you are not living together as a couple they check whether you share a bedroom with them,  have joint bills,  pay rent and whether you have your own areas of the property.   The first 2 are the main indicators though.   They can get this wrong so any other proof you are not a couple is helpful.   Good luck with this.  x
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  • Posted

    Thankyou so much for your help guys...my friend helped me in the interview, and I'm going to get advice from Mind if need be, depending on what happens next.  They said I have to wait for a letter from a decision maker.  Thanks again, it's been really tough and has complicated my treatment / recovery a lot, but your help made a big difference. 
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  • Posted

    Hi Bones,

    I'm sorry to hear how badly you were treated at the interview, this is not right and you should make a complaint about the bullying. I suffer with Borderline Personality Disorder so I completley understand how terrible it was for you, they think they can treat people like dirt and get away with it don't let them. I had an interview with a Compliance officer who came to my home for the interview, like you I was worried and nervous but unlike you I was lucky enough to have a very kind and understanding person who treated me with compashion  and put my mind at ease. I had a relative with me as I couldn't face it alone so  you can certainly have someone with yo, don't let them tell you otherwise, I would also say it might be a good idea to take an advocate with you as well as they can take notes on what is going on and speak up on your behalf and will not let them bully you, also if they can't attend on the date of your appointment you can ask for another one when the advocate is available to go with you, your entitled to have someone in the legal profession present it is your right. Make sure you get an advocate who  specialises  in Mental Health so I would say Mind should be able to advise you on where to look for one or Rethink Mental Health. I don't know why they told you that you had too much savings as when you are on ESA Contributory your savings are not taken in to account, It seems they may have been just scare mungering which is not funny especially when you suffer with Mental Health. I wish you well and hope you will find piece of mind.

     

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  • Posted

    you have the right to have a friend to suport you in your interview as long as they don't say anything, they are there for suport only.
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    • Posted

      David really surley not,! how can anyone be supportive without speaking, what if the person is with you because of mental problems and you find it hard to explain things yourself, seems very unjust to me but wouldnt shock me all the same if this is the case

      ​Sue

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    • Posted

      We are talking about government departments here!!

      My last department before I retired in Jan 2010, was just the same. When interviewing someone for a potential prosecution, the defendant did have the right to support from someone. They did not have the right to legal representation and as such in every case I refused to allow solicitors and other reps to be present at the interview. The support that someone brought with them was not allowed to speak and if they did I told them to leave the room.

      The interview was NOT taped, but I wrote down what I believed they had said. Obviously words and phrases can generally mean different things to different people but just as long as I had enough evidence that was it. What happened if the defendant said that what I had written was not what was said? The written interview notes were signed at the time by the defendant as being a full and correct statement of what they had said.

      Let them try - their word against the signed statement and a civil servant that was also an officer of the High Court. 

      I was honest at all times, but many cases went to court based on an 'interpretation' of what other civil servants had 'thought' that they had heard. Some officers went as far as to manipulate the statement in order to guarantee a conviction! 

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