There are 2 ways to commit benefit fraud:

  • intentionally not reporting a change in your circumstances
  • being dishonest in order to get benefits

What happens if you’re suspected of benefit fraud

You’ll be contacted by either the Department for Work and Pensions, HM Revenue and Customs, the Service and Personnel and Veterans Agency or your local authority. You may be visited by Fraud Investigation Officers (FIOs) or be asked to attend an interview to talk about your claim.

Your benefit may be stopped while the matter is investigated. If this happens, you’ll get a letter telling you what will happen next.

What happens after a benefit fraud investigation

FIOs will gather facts about your case and decide whether to take further action. If there’s evidence that you’re committing benefit fraud (or have committed fraud in the past), one or more of the following may happen:

  • you may be taken to court
  • you may be asked to pay a penalty (between £350 and £2,000) instead of going to court
  • your benefit may be reduced or stopped
  • you’ll be asked to pay back the overpaid benefit

Losing benefits if you’re convicted of fraud

You’ll lose your benefits for up to 3 years if you’re convicted of benefit fraud. How long you lose them for depends on how many times you’ve committed fraud.

Only certain benefits can be reduced. These are called ‘sanctionable benefits’.

However, if you commit fraud on a benefit that can’t be reduced, your other benefits could be reduced instead.

Which benefits can be reduced or stopped

The following benefits can be reduced or stopped if you commit, or have committed, benefit fraud:

  • Carer’s Allowance
  • Employment and Support Allowance
  • Incapacity Benefit
  • Income Support
  • Industrial Death Benefit
  • Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit
  • Industrial Injuries Reduced Earnings Allowance
  • Industrial Injuries Retirement Allowance
  • Industrial Injuries Unemployability Supplement
  • Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Severe Disablement Allowance
  • Housing/Council Tax Benefit
  • Pension Credit
  • Universal Credit
  • War Disablement Pension
  • War Widow’s Pension 

  • War Pension Unemployability Supplement 

  • War Pension Allowance for Lower Standard of Occupation 

  • Widowed Mother’s/Parent’s Allowance
  • Widow’s Pension/Bereavement Allowance
  • Working Tax Credit

The benefits above can also be reduced or stopped if you commit, or have committed, fraud on any of the following benefits

  • Attendance Allowance
  • Bereavement Payment
  • Child Benefit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Christmas Bonus
  • Council Tax Benefit
  • Disability Living Allowance
  • Graduated Retirement Benefit
  • Guardian’s Allowance
  • Industrial Injuries Constant Attendance Allowance (where a Disablement Pension is payable) 

  • Industrial Injuries Exceptionally Severe Disablement Allowance (where a Disablement Pension is payable)
  • Personal Independence Payment
  • State Pension
  • Social Fund Payments
  • War Pension Constant Attendance Allowance 

  • War Pension Exceptionally Severe Disablement Allowance 

  • War Pension Mobility Supplement

Your benefits can’t be stopped or reduced if you commit benefit fraud on the following benefits:

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