You commit benefit fraud by claiming benefits you’re not entitled to on purpose. For example by:
- not reporting a change in your circumstances
- providing false information
What happens if you’re suspected of benefit fraud
You’ll be contacted by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), the Service and Personnel and Veterans Agency or your local authority if you’re suspected of fraud.
Your benefit may be stopped while you’re investigated. You’ll get a letter telling you about this if it happens.
You may be visited by Fraud Investigation Officers (FIOs) or asked to attend an interview to talk about your claim - this is called an ‘interview under caution’.
FIOs will gather facts about your case and decide whether to take further action.
If you’re asked to attend an interview
An ‘interview under caution’ is a formal interview that is often recorded. It could become part of a criminal investigation against you.
Get advice on your case (for example from a legal adviser or solicitor).
You can also get help and information about ‘interviews under caution’ from Citizen’s Advice.
What happens after a benefit fraud investigation
If you’ve committed or attempted fraud, one or more of the following may also happen:
- you’ll be told to pay back the overpaid money
- you may be taken to court or asked to pay a penalty (between £350 and £5,000)
- your benefits may be reduced or stopped
Losing benefits if you’re convicted of benefit fraud
Your benefits can be reduced or stopped for up to 3 years if you’re convicted of benefit fraud. The amount of time they’re stopped for depends on how many times you’ve committed fraud.
Only certain benefits can be reduced or stopped. These are called ‘sanctionable benefits’. But if you commit fraud on a benefit that cannot be reduced or stopped, your other benefits can be reduced instead.
The following benefits can be reduced or stopped if you commit benefit fraud:
- Carer’s Allowance
- Employment and Support Allowance
- Housing Benefit
- 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
- 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
Benefits that cannot be reduced or stopped
The following benefits cannot be reduced or stopped if you commit benefit fraud:
- Attendance Allowance
- Bereavement Payment
- Bereavement Support Payment
- Child Benefit
- Child Tax Credit
- Christmas Bonus
- 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
If you commit benefit fraud and you get any of the following, none of your payments can be stopped or reduced:
- Maternity Allowance
- Statutory Adoption Pay
- Statutory Maternity Pay
- Statutory Paternity Pay
- Statutory Sick Pay