Switching Claimant & Partner

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    Claimant (who is the wife in the partnership) completed an application form with her name in the first position, and signed declaration as the person claiming.
    There is a gap in the claim, and when they made a new claim the husband completed the form with his name in the first position, and he signed the declaration as the person claiming. In both instances, the other person has signed the declaration as the partner.
    We have kept the wife as the claimant on our computer system as she was origially set up as being the claimant so we put a new claim line on the previous claim.
    We now have a fraudulent overpayment spanning both periods, and the husband has recently moved out. Investigations are concerned as they consider they cannot prosecute the wife as she did not complete the last form as being the ‘claimant’.
    Are other LA’s swapping claimant & partner roles everytime a couple complete a form, and has the other person stating they are making the claim.

    Kevin D

    On the face of it, I think your Investigations bods are correct. In HB/CTB, there is no such thing as a “joint claimant”. In this case, the “second” claim was plainly made by “Mr”. Unless there is a dispute between a couple as to who is claiming, the LA has no legal basis for choosing which of a couple is the claimant. Therefore, the LA has never dealt with the second claim in accordance with the law. To see how getting the clmt / ptnr wrong can completely undermine subsequent action, see [b]Flintshire CC v Reynolds [2006] EWHC Admin 195[/b]. Also see CH/3622/2006 and CH/3817/2004.

    I have also assisted in a case where a LA prosecuted a couple for fraud related offences – HB. It turned out the LA did not appreciate the distinction between a claimant and the partner and didn’t understand a partner was not under a duty to disclose a change in circs. The partner was acquitted shortly after very embarrassing cross-examination of the LA’s officer who plainly didn’t know what s/he was doing. As it happens, the claimant was also later acquitted as there was no evidence as to dishonesty. To say the Court was unimpressed would be an understatement.

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