If you are suspected of benefit fraud or subject to an investigation by the DWP or Local Authority Compliance team then you should seek legal advice from a benefit fraud appeals solicitor immediately. A qualified experienced solicitor will be able to assist you in lodging a benefit fraud appeal with the first-tier social security tribunal.
The DWP and local authorities are cracking down on benefit fraud in a big way. You may have seen that the media are constantly reporting cases in which claimants have been prosecuted for benefit fraud.
As the government is looking to save money on benefit fraud, increased powers and resources have been given to benefit fraud investigators. This has led to a big rise in the amount of benefit fraud investigations taking place each year. This has seen a rise in benefit fraud appeals being heard by the first-tier social security tribunal. The DWP has set up a website which allows members of the public to report claimants for benefit fraud at Report benefit fraud – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
Most Benefit Fraud investigations start with a letter from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) or the local authority compliance officer. This will usually be an invitation asking a claimant to attend a criminal investigation known as an interview under caution or a customer compliance interview.
Seeking immediate legal advice at this stage and if required lodging a benefit fraud appeal against the decision that has been made against you is the best way to protect yourself from losing your benefits or criminal prosecution by the DWP or local authority.
Failing to tell the DWP or local authority about your true financial circumstances when you claimed a means-tested benefit or if your circumstances changed during the claim. For example, you did not declare all your savings or income because you knew that it would affect your entitlement to the benefit.
Not telling the DWP or local authority about your true household situation. For example, if you were living with someone but claiming benefits as a lone parent
Using a false ID or using false documentation to claim benefits. An example could be using a fake passport or driving licence to make a claim for income support.
Deliberately failing to tell the DWP or local authority about a change of circumstances because you knew that it would affect your entitlement to the benefit, this could be an increase in capital or income or your disability improving to a point whereby you may no longer comply with the criteria for a disability-related benefit such as Disability Living Allowance (DLA), Personal Independence Payments (PIP), Employment Support Allowance (ESA) or Universal Credit (UC).
Disability benefit fraud is a serious crime and can carry a large fine or even a prison sentence. If you have been accused of disability benefit fraud, it’s important to seek legal advice.
This type of benefit fraud is the act of claiming disability benefits when you don’t need to. There are a variety of different ways a person can commit disability benefit fraud:
Exaggerating or being dishonest about being disabled to claim disability benefits.
Intentionally withholding relevant information regarding your disability, i.e. if your condition has improved or your condition has healed.
You may have been contacted by the DWP or Local Authority because you have been overpaid a benefit. This is not necessarily fraud but can run parallel to a fraud investigation. If this happens I can assist with the civil appeal and refer you to a specialist criminal lawyer that can deal with any possible criminal proceedings. I find that on occasions overpayments are incorrectly calculated by the DWP or the Local Authority investigation team. Challenging and reducing the overpayment amount can have a big difference in whether you are prosecuted and possibly subject to further criminal recovery proceedings.
In the event that the fraud investigators are under the impression that you have committed a benefit fraud offence, they will probably interview you under caution. If you are asked to attend an interview under caution, you should seek legal assistance straight away and not attend the appointment by yourself.
It is important to seek legal advice as soon as possible as there can be grave consequences in terms of criminal prosecution, recovery of overpayments and possible eviction from your home if you do not assist the local authority with their investigations.
Types of situations when you may be accused of housing benefit fraud:
Over the last two decades, I have developed considerable experience in representing clients who have been asked to attend interviews under caution with the DWP at the Jobcentre or Local Authority offices regarding allegations of benefit fraud. I regularly attend interviews under caution with my clients and can assist with the process from the start of the investigation until completion. I can also assist in investigations which start as interviews under caution or requests for further information from the DWP compliance department and become benefit fraud appeals regarding overpayments of benefits which can be appealed to the Social Security First-tier Tribunal.
I have over 20 years of experience in welfare benefits law and have dealt with various types of benefit fraud appeals and cases ranging from overpayments due to excess capital, alleged cohabitation appeals, disability benefit fraud allegations, allegations of contrived non-commercial tenancies by the local authority, benefit fraud interviews and investigations carried out by the local authority and the DWP compliance teams.
When required, I am also able to take on benefit fraud appeals to the social security upper tribunal and can assist with requesting permission to appeal.
If you are being investigated for benefit fraud, it is essential that you seek legal advice, even if you believe the allegations are false. I have over 20 years of experience in dealing with welfare benefits appeals and I am one of the few solicitors in the country that specialises in civil benefit fraud appeals. I take on clients from all over England and find that most of the work can be done over the phone, email and skype but if a face-to-face appointment is needed this can also be arranged.
Due to the changes in public funding, legal aid is no longer available for welfare benefits appeals but I can usually offer a fixed fee service.
I would be delighted to help you with your legal matters.
For a free initial consultation please call 0203 9729011 or email me using the contact form below.