Deliberately failing to report a change in your circumstances or being dishonest about information regarding your benefit claim is considered as benefit fraud.
A benefit claimant commits fraud by failing to give the following information:
Their correct household income.
Their correct savings or capital.
That a partner or other adults domiciles with them.
That they own other property or land.
A change of their domicile address.
Fraud may also be committed by:
Pretending to rent a property, but actually own it.
Pretending to pay more rent than they actually do.
A landlord not declaring that tenants have moved out, still accepting their benefit payments.
Requesting an employer sign a form declaring the claimant earn less than what they actually do.
Loss of benefits
Repayment of overpaid benefit
Confiscation of home and possessions
Possible prison sentence.
Two benefit fraud offences involving some benefits may result in their disqualification. These include:
If you have reason to think a decision concerning your benefits is incorrect, you may ask the office that made the decision for a full explanation. You may also ask for the decision to be reconsidered and even appeal against the decision to an independent tribunal.
Some benefit fraud decisions cannot be appealed. For example, you cannot appeal against decisions regarding Budgeting Loans, Community Care Grants or Crisis Loans. The letter explaining the decision will make it clear if it cannot be appealed.
You have one month after receiving a decision to request for it to be explained, reconsidered or appealed. You also have one month to start an appeal after getting a reconsidered decision.
Under special circumstances a late appeal may be accepted, but no more than 13 months.
How to appeal will be explained in the decision letter.
An appeal form is included in the information leaflet provided and requires posting to the benefits office dealing with your claim. The information leaflet is also available in your local benefits office or on the Department for Work and Pensions website.
Benefit fraud can be reported online, by telephone or by post. Go to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) website for further information. You can make an anonymous report if necessary, all reports are treated in confidence. It does help if you do provide your details so you can be contacted for further questions if necessary.
The law requires that there be good reason for investigating someone for benefit fraud, therefore it is essential to provide as much of the following information as possible:
The Fraud Investigation Service will investigate the person’s benefit claim if enough information has been provided. This investigation may take some time, and no notification is given to the informant of any action taken. It is possible that no action is taken if, for example, a change in a person’s circumstances does not affect their benefit claim.
The information given in a benefit claim is checked by Department of Works and Pension (DWP) to make sure it is accurate. This is a routine check and includes; comparing the information the claimant has provided with records about them held by other government agencies. For example, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) will know if the claimant is paying tax or working, and will be able to confirm the claimant’s earnings. Local authorities will also be contacted for information about the claimant before administering any benefits.
The DWP are permitted to make checks at anytime, not only when the initial claim is made.
If the DWP’s enquiries find that the information from other government agencies does not match the benefit claim, authorised DWP Fraud Investigators may visit the claimant at their home or request that they attend an interview.
Enquiries can be made only where there are reasonable grounds to think benefit fraud has been committed. If this is the case, DWP Fraud Investigators will look into your details more carefully. They will compare information about you and your family with information already given on your claim forms or in interviews.
Private and public organisations that hold information about you will be contacted by Fraud Investigators. These include:
The DWP collects and holds any information about you relating to your benefit claim. The law allows the DWP to compare this information and share it with other organisations and Government agencies.
The Data Protection Act 1998 gives you the right by law to know what personal information is held about you by organisations. In order to find out how the Data Protection Act affects you, download a leaflet on the DWP website.
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