Dental claim fines hit thousands
Published: 2nd Jun 2012 14:58:32
More than 8,000 NHS dental patients have been fined in the past year for claiming free treatment when they were not eligible in the last year, the BBC has learned.
The fines totalled more than a million pounds.
Some of those affected say the rules about who does and does not qualify were not made clear to them.
But the Department for Work and Pensions says that all claimants receive adequate information.
In total, 8,329 people were fined in the past year.
Vaneeta Sharma was fined £100 for claiming free dental treatment. Despite being in receipt of Jobseekers Allowance (JSA), she was not on the type that allows you to claim free treatment.
She told Radio 4's Money Box programme: "When I went to the job centre the first time, they did not make it clear that there were two types of Jobseekers Allowance."
Ms Sharma was on contribution-based JSA. This is a short-term benefit based on a person's past National Insurance contributions.
This is distinct from income-based JSA which is what a claimant receives if they still need help after six months.
This hundred pounds is a lot of money to me”
While income-based JSA does entitle you to free dental care, contribution-based JSA does not.
Confusing the two benefits has left Ms Sharma facing a charge she says she can not afford.
"This £100 is a lot of money to me. I don't mind paying my dental charges but I am not happy paying this penalty charge."
The letter Ms Sharma received from the Department of Work and Pensions did not distinguish between the two types of benefit. Nor did it state that this had implications for what other benefits she could access.
Marie Clair at the Campaign for Plain English told Money Box that she would expect this information to be much more prominent: "As far as I am concerned this letter says 'I'm pleased to tell you that we can pay you Jobseekers Allowance.'
It is not until almost the last line that you understand that it is contribution-based in this instance."
It is not just JSA where confusion can arise. Pension Credit and Employment and Support Allowance also come in two forms and only one type is a passport to free dental care.
The Department for Work and Pensions said: "We make it clear at the point of claim what type of Jobseeker's Allowance you are claiming.
Enclosed with every award letter is a INF1 leaflet that further explains the differences between the benefits and also a signpost to tell you where you can find out about other benefits you may be eligible for."
Hear the full report on Radio 4's Money Box on Saturday, 2 June at 12:00 BST or download the podcast
Money Box is broadcast on Saturdays at 12:00 GMT on BBC Radio 4 and repeated on Sundays at 21:00 BST.
You can listen again via the BBC iPlayer or by downloading Money Box podcast.
Have you mistakenly claimed for free medical treatment when you were in fact not eligible? Let us know your views
If you are happy to be contacted by a BBC journalist please leave a telephone number that we can contact you on. In some cases a selection of your comments will be published, displaying your name as you provide it and location, unless you state otherwise. Your contact details will never be published. When sending us pictures, video or eyewitness accounts at no time should you endanger yourself or others, take any unnecessary risks or infringe any laws. Please ensure you have read the terms and conditions.
Terms and conditions
At 12:01:43 in Northern IrelandA gang of up to eight men have damaged a car in Londonderry in what police have called a "sectarian hate crime".
At 12:01:00 in SportLeicester City manager Nigel Pearson wants his squad to mark their Championship title win by setting a new club record points total.
At 11:56:41 in WalesThe director of care at a children's hospice has been cleared of professional misconduct over the way she dealt with a dying teenager.
At 11:54:04 in ScotlandIntelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden has been installed as rector at Glasgow University.
At 11:54:02 in SportPaul Scholes has returned to help Manchester United's coaching team following the sacking of David Moyes.
At 11:54:01 in WorldA New York police public relations exercise in which members of the public were asked to share photos of themselves positively interacting with police officers has backfired.
At 11:53:19 in ScotlandScottish manufactured export sales fell by 4% in the fourth quarter of last year, according to official figures.
At 11:51:14 in EntertainmentThe number of viewer complaints over the audibility of BBC One drama Jamaica Inn has escalated, with the second episode seeing a decline in ratings.
At 11:51:09 in SportThe International Rules competition between Ireland and Australia has been reduced from two games to one for 2014.
At 11:50:20 in SportMiddlesbrough head coach Aitor Karanka has blamed himself for Tuesday's 2-0 defeat by Reading, the club's second loss in four days.
Harvard CitationBBC News, 2012. Dental claim fines hit thousands [Online] (Updated 2nd Jun 2012)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/1432484/Dental-claim-fines-hit-thousands [Accessed 23rd Apr 2014]
News In Other Categories
A meeting to determine how the internet should be governed gets underway in Sao Paulo, Brazil later.
A New York police public relations exercise in which members of the public were asked to share photos of themselves positively interacting with police officers has backfired.
Intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden has been installed as rector at Glasgow University.
An 82-year-old man arrested on suspicion of arson after allegedly crashing his car into a Hampshire sailing club and setting it on fire remains in hospital.
With the doors to its brand new £1million training centre officially open, one of the UK's leading apprentice training providers, Bristol based S&B Automotive Academy, is showcasing its world-class facilities by launching a series of foreign student exchanges for the first time in its 41-year history. To get a flavour of what life is like as an apprentice in the UK, the Academy hosted 16 apprentice engineers and bus drivers from the G9 Automotive College in Hamburg, Germany, as part of a Europe-wide vocational training initiative called the ‘Leonardo Programme’ with support from the European Social Fund. In a reciprocal arrangement, S&B will be sending nine apprentices to Germany during February 2012 so that they can get an appreciation of life in the automotive industry on the Continent. A further three German exchange groups are being planned for next year. Designed to assist the development of vocational skills and training across Europe, including work placements for trainees, the Leonardo Programme has a budget of €1.75bn, which is helping to encourage UK organisations to work with their counterparts abroad. In what is expected to be another challenging year for employers in the UK automotive sector, S&B’s Chief Executive, Jon Winter, claims that the exchange initiative will bring many benefits to the Academy and its apprentices: “In a world of global automotive brands, it’s important for our learners to understand the international context of the industry they have chosen to make their career. This new exchange programme will enable apprentices and Academy staff alike to achieve a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities within the automotive arena in Europe. With the Academy’s influence also extending to the USA and Asia, there’s every possibility that this initiative could move further afield in the future.” Continued Winter: “The need for skilled technicians across the world is on the increase and we actively encourage our apprentices to look at broader horizons during their training. Many of them have already learned the phrase ‘Vorsprung durch Gelehrtheit’, quite simply, ‘Advancement through learning.” In the 2010/11 academic year, S&B doubled the number of successful Apprenticeships over the previous year with some 350 apprentices graduating from the Academy. At the same time, achievement levels reached an all-time high with an overall success rate of 85%. For those learners on the Advanced Apprenticeship three-year programme, success rates were even higher, at over 98%. PHOTO CAPTION: As part of their exchange visit, S&B Automotive Academy arranged for the German apprentices to visit Hampshire bus operator, Bluestar, at its Barton Park depot. The students are pictured with S&B’s Andy West (3rd right) and Steve Prewett, Bluestar’s Area Engineering Manager (2nd right). Ends http://www.sandbaa.com