You commit benefit fraud by either:

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

What happens if you’re suspected of fraud

You’ll be contacted by the Department for Work and Pensions, HM Revenue and Customs, the Service and Personnel and Veterans Agency or your local authority if you’re suspected of fraud.

You may be visited by Fraud Investigation Officers (FIOs) or asked to attend an interview to talk about your claim.

Your benefit may be stopped while you’re investigated. You’ll get a letter telling about this if it happens.

FIOs will gather facts about your case and decide whether to take further action.

What happens after a benefit fraud investigation

If there’s evidence you’ve committed fraud, one or more of the following may happen:

  • you’re taken to court
  • you’re asked to pay a penalty (between £350 and £5,000) instead of going to court
  • your benefits are reduced or stopped
  • you’re told to pay back the overpaid money

Losing benefits if you’re convicted of 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 can’t be reduced or stopped, your other benefits can be reduced instead.

Sanctionable benefits

The following benefits can be reduced or stopped if you commit 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

Benefits that can’t be reduced or stopped

The following benefits can’t be reduced or stopped if you commit benefit fraud:

  • 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


If you commit benefit fraud and you’re on any of the following benefits, none of your benefits can be stopped or reduced:

  • 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