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DWP takes woman’s inheritance over supermarket job


Vivienne Groom and her husband (left) and Vivienne's mother (right)

Vivienne Groom got a job at a local Co-op while caring for her mother (Picture: Cavendish Press)

A woman has shared her shock after the government seized £16,000 left to her in her mother’s inheritance because she was overpaid in her carer’s allowance.

Vivienne Groom was prosecuted for not declaring she had a minimum wage job at a Co-op in Tarvin, near Chester, while also caring for her mother.

Mrs Groom said a social worker informed her that she did not have to inform the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) about the job.

The DWP has said it was ‘right’ to seek to claim back ‘taxpayers’ money’.

Initially Mrs Groom had agreed a payment plan of £30 a month between 2014 and 2019 to pay back the £16,800 in overpayments.

But when the government found out she stood to inherit £16,000 from her mum, they decided to seize that instead.

Vivienne’s husband Geoff spoke of how she has been ‘penalised’ for looking after her mother

And the only way for DWP to obtain the money was for them to prosecute Mrs Groom – so she was charged with benefit fraud offences.

Mrs Groom told the BBC she was ‘devastated’ by what happened.

She said: ‘I followed that lady’s rules and I looked after my mum.

‘I mean, if people look after their parents they should be paid more money so they don’t have to go to work as well. I had to go to work. We had bills to pay.’

Without any legal representation to help her, Mrs Groom pleaded guilty and was given a community order with unpaid work requirements.

She was then forced back to court after the DWP initiated proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA).

This meant they could ask a judge to order the confiscation of Mrs Groom’s inheritance.

The order was granted on Wednesday, even though another judge described himself as ‘truly unimpressed’ with DWP’s handling of the case during Mrs Groom’s sentencing hearing.

Mrs Groom told the BBC she was ‘devastated’ by what has happened (Picture: Vivienne Groom/ Cavendish Press)

At the earlier hearing, Judge Steven Everett, the Recorder of Chester, told Mrs Groom she was ‘doing the best you could for your mother’.

And Mrs Groom’s husband Geoff told the BBC his wife had been ‘penalised for looking after her mum’.

The DWP has faced general criticism for failing to prevent these types of overpayments despite the fact they have the ability to do so.

They have also been criticised for allowing recipients to end up in legal trouble.

Benefits staff at DWP automatically get alerts from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) if a carer’s allowance claimant is earning too much money to claim.

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Source:: Metro

      

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