Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support should go to those who need it. It is important to make sure that money does not go to people who claim dishonestly. If a customer makes a false statement to claim benefit or fails to notify a change of circumstance, they may have committed a criminal offence.
Benefit fraud costs taxpayers in the UK about £2 billion per year.
We are keen to make payments of benefits to genuine customers, but we are committed to tackling benefit fraud. Claiming dishonestly would include:
• not telling us about wages
• not telling us about savings
• claiming in more than one name
• not living at the property they are claiming for
• claiming Housing Benefit on a property they or a relative own
• not telling us that a partner is working
If you know of anyone stealing benefits you can contact the National Benefit Fraud Hotline on 0800 854440. Your call is confidential and free from a BT landline. Lines are open 8.00am to 6.00pm, Monday to Friday. (Please note that calls to this number from mobiles may incur a charge)
If you have speech or hearing problems you can use a text phone service on 0800 328 0512.
You can also report benefit fraud online at www.gov.uk/report-benefit-fraud or by post to NBFH, PO Box 224, Preston, PR1 1GP.
Anyone suspected of committing an offence may be asked to attend an interview under caution. This will be tape recorded in accordance with the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. After the investigation, any overpayment will be calculated. A senior officer will consider if a sanction is appropriate. Whatever sanction is considered, the overpayment will still have to be repaid.
If fraud has been proven, the person responsible will face one of the following actions:
• prosecution - this will be in a court of law. A successful prosecution will result in a criminal record.
• caution - this is an official warning. Further benefit offences may lead to a prosecution. A caution is not a criminal conviction but will be recorded on the Department for Work and Pensions database and could be used in future criminal proceedings that involve benefit related offences.
• administrative penalty - this is a financial penalty that will be required to be paid in addition to the overpayment. Further benefit offences may lead to a prosecution. An administrative penalty is not a criminal conviction but will be recorded on the Department for Work and Pensions database and could be used in future criminal proceedings that involve benefit related offences.