A Benefit Fraud Guide

Benefit Fraud StampHow Can You Commit Benefit Fraud?

There are two main ways you can commit benefit fraud. The first is to purposely not report a change in your circumstances, such as returning to work after a period of sickness. The other way is by being dishonest to start getting benefits in the first place, an example would be lying about your age or occupation.

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How Can You Report Suspected Benefit Fraud?

You can report someone you suspect of benefit fraud online or over the phone. The online form can be accessed in both Welsh and English.

When making a report, you don’t have to give the name of the person you suspect if you don’t want to and any information you provide will be kept confidential. When completing the online form, it is important to give as much information as you can.

What Will Happen If You Are Suspected Of Committing Benefit Fraud?

Question Mark PersonIf you are suspected of committing benefit fraud, you will be contacted by the relevant department. This could be the Department for Work and Pensions (the DWP), HM Revenue and Customs (also known as the HMRC), the Service and Personnel and Veterans Agency or your local authority.

You may also get a visit from Fraud Investigation Officer, who are also known as FIOs. The job of the FIO’s is to get the correct facts about your particular case and decide whether or not to take further action. Another option is that you could be asked to attend an interview to discuss your claim.

While you are being investigated, you could have your benefits stop. If this is the case, you will receive a letter detailing the situation.

What Will Happen After An Investigation For Benefit Fraud?

If you are found to be guilty of committing benefit fraud, there are a number of different courses of action that can take place. Sometimes there can be more than one of these things that takes place:

  • You are taken to court
  • You are asked to make a penalty payment, rather than going to court. This can be from £350 to £5000.
  • You have your benefits reduced or stopped entirely
  • You are told to pay back the money you have been overpaid with

Will I Lose My Benefits If I Am Convicted Of Benefit Fraud?

Money 7If you are convicted of fraud, you may find that you lose your benefits entirely or have them reduced. This can last for a period of up to 3 years, but this will vary depending on how many times you have committed the fraud.

There are only certain benefits that can be stopped and/or reduced. These are sometimes referred to as ‘sanctionable benefits’. If you are found to have committed fraud on a benefit that can’t be reduced or stopped entirely, you could find that this happens to your other benefits instead.

What Benefits Can Be Stopped?

Sanctionable benefits, or benefits that can be stopped or reduced if you are found to be guilty of benefit fraud, include:

  • Pension Credit
  • Universal Credit
  • War Disablement Pension
  • War Widow’s Pension
  • Carer’s Allowance
  • Employment and Support Allowance
  • Industrial Injuries
    • Disablement Benefit
    • Reduced Earnings Allowance
    • Retirement Allowance
    • Unemployability Supplement
  • Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Severe Disablement Allowance
  • Housing/Council Tax Benefit
  • Incapacity Benefit
  • Income Support
  • Industrial Death Benefit
  • War Pension
    • Unemployability Supplement
    • Allowance for Lower Standard of Occupation
  • Widowed Mother’s/Parent’s Allowance
  • Widow’s Pension/Bereavement Allowance
  • Working Tax Credit

What Benefits Cannot Be Stopped?

There are certain benefits that cannot be stopped or reduced, even if you are found to have committed benefit fraud. These are:

  • Disability Living Allowance
  • Graduated Retirement Benefit
  • Guardian’s Allowance
  • Industrial Injuries Constant Attendance Allowance (when a Disablement Pension is payable)
  • Attendance Allowance
  • Bereavement Payment
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Industrial Injuries Exceptionally Severe Disablement Allowance (when a Disablement Pension is payable)
  • Christmas Bonus
  • Council Tax Benefit
  • Personal Independence Payment
  • Child Benefit
  • State Pension
  • Social Fund Payments
  • War Pension
    • Constant Attendance Allowance
    • Exceptionally Severe Disablement Allowance
    • Mobility Supplement

Are There Any Exceptions?

There are some exceptions. If you have been committing benefit fraud, and are receiving any of these benefits, none of them can be stopped or reduced:

  • Maternity Allowance
  • Diffuse Mesothelioma Scheme (2008)
  • Pneumoconiosis (Workers’ Compensation) 1979
  • Health in Pregnancy Grant
  • Statutory Adoption, Maternity, Paternity or Sick Pay