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What is a Benefit Fraud?

Deliberately failing to report a change in your circumstances or being dishonest about information regarding your benefit claim is considered as benefit fraud.

What different types of benefit fraud are there?

A benefit claimant commits fraud by failing to give the following information:

Fraud may also be committed by:

What are the penalties?

If you are convicted of two different benefit fraud offences, entitlement to certain benefits can be reduced or withdrawn for a specific period, known as the 'Two Strikes' sanction.

Sanctionable benefits:

Benefits that can be reduced or withdrawn are called ‘sanctionable’, and include:

Disqualifying benefits:

Two benefit fraud offences involving some benefits may result in their disqualification. These include:

Appealing against a benefit fraud decision

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.

Deadlines

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

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.

Reporting Benefit Fraud

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.

What information do you need to provide

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:

What happens after someone is reported

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.

How benefit claims are checked for benefit fraud

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.

What if there is a problem with a claim?

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.

What if you're suspected of benefit fraud?

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:

Personal information and your rights

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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