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Fraud investigation

Benefit fraud costs the country about £2 billion a year, which is money that could be spent on improving services. This amounts to around £80 for every household in the UK.

Benefit fraud is theft, and we are all victims. It takes money away from the most vulnerable members of the community, those who need it most, as well as adding to the national tax bill that we all contribute towards.  

North West Leicestershire District Council is committed to protecting public funds through its action against fraud. We will prosecute benefit cheats and recover overpaid benefit. Anyone who cheats the system will not be allowed to get away with it. Benefit Fraud

It does not matter if the fraud means just a few pounds of extra benefit or thousands of pounds over a period of months or years - if someone doesn’t report a change in their circumstances on purpose, or is dishonest in order to get benefit, they will be treated as committing benefit fraud.

People commit fraud in different ways and these are some of the types of fraud that we find.

People who:

  • Don't report that they are now living with a partner
  • Don't report that they have started to work, or started to earn money
  • Don't report that they are getting a private or works pension, or any other income
  • Don't report their savings or don't report the right amount
  • Don't report that they have inherited or come into money
  • Don't report that they are getting other benefits
  • Don't report that they have changed address, are going abroad or living abroad
  • Continue to claim for children who have left home
  • Submit false documents and statements to support a claim
  • Supply a false tenancy agreement to make a contrived benefit claim

Your responsibilities when making a claim

When you make a claim for Housing Benefit or Council Tax Support, you have certain responsibilities. You must complete the claim form fully and provide accurate information about yourself and anyone else named on your form, even if someone else fills the form in on your behalf.

When we write to you about your claim, you must read and make sure that you understand the letter, check that all the details are correct and tell us straight away if anything is wrong.

You must also tell us in writing straight away if your circumstances change. Examples of changes are:

  • Someone moves in or out of your home
  • Your income or savings change
  • There are changes to other benefits that you receive

Examples of other changes that we need to know about are shown here. If you are not sure whether something will affect your claim, please ask the Benefits Team.

How is fraud investigated?

The Revenues and Benefits Service has a dedicated Benefit Investigations Team of professionally trained and accredited Fraud Officers. They are responsible for the prevention and detection of Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support fraud. The team is aided by all council employees, who report any suspicious claims to them.

If we suspect that fraud has occurred, our investigators use a variety of methods to get information. They can get information from financial institutions such as credit card companies and banks as well as government departments and other councils to help with their investigations. They can also get information from other sources such as employers, landlords, utility companies and Internet providers.

Other ways that they can get information include surveillance, computer data matches and joint working with other government departments such as the Department for Work and Pensions. Our investigators take witness statements and can ask someone suspected of fraud to attend a formal Interview Under Caution.

We carry out our investigations in accordance with the Human Rights Act and ensure the right to privacy. All methods to investigate fraud are used fairly and only where absolutely necessary.

How can I report benefit fraud?

Fraud costs everybody money. If you think that someone is committing benefit theft, there are several ways you can report them and stop them from taking money from the people who need it most.

Contact our Benefit Investigations Team on their Hotline 01455 255683. Lines are open between 8.45am and 5.00pm Monday to Friday with an answer phone service outside of these hours.

or

Call the National Benefit Fraud Hotline on 0800 854 440. It is free and confidential. If you have speech or hearing problems, you can use the text phone service on 0800 328 0512.

Online

Complete an online form on the Department for Work and Pensions website.

By post

If you would rather make your report in writing, please send your information to:

Fraud Investigation Team
Leicestershire Partnership – Revenues & Benefits
PO Box 10004
Hinckley
Leicestershire
LE10 9EJ
 

What information should I provide?

The law says that there has to be a good reason for investigating someone for benefit fraud - so you will need to give as much information as possible. This should include:

  • the name and address of the person you are reporting and their partner, if they have one
  • a description of the person
  • the type of benefit fraud you think they are committing and why you suspect them
  • information about their employer, if you think they are working
  • information about their vehicle, if they have one

You can make an anonymous report

Whether you telephone or e-mail us, use the online reporting form, or write a letter, you do not need to tell us your name unless you want to.
But please bear in mind that it helps if you do so, because we can get back to you with any questions. Your details will always be kept confidential, and the person that you are reporting will not be told that you made the report. If the case goes to court you will not be called as a witness.

What happens after you report someone?

We will look at the information that you have given and check the person's claim.
Investigations can sometimes take months to complete depending on their complexity, and we aren't allowed to tell you the outcome.
Sometimes no action is taken. For example, this might be because the person has declared that they are working and their claim is not affected by it.

What happens if fraud is found?

We will only take action if we find the person has been committing fraud. If there is evidence that fraud has been committed, one or more of the following may happen:

  • taking the person to court (prosecution)
  • asking them to pay an Administrative Penalty instead of going to court. This means an extra amount of money that must be paid as well as paying back the overpayment
  • a Local Authority Caution - given as an alternative to prosecution in less serious cases, but only when someone admits the offence and shows regret for their actions
  • stopping or reducing on-going benefit (known as a Sanction or 'Loss of Benefit' Provision)

In each case where fraud has been proved, the person will have to pay back any money that they should not have received.

How the government is tackling benefit theft

The government is trying to stamp out benefit theft by:

  • setting standards for checking claims and giving Local Authorities access to government information
  • requiring more evidence when people apply for a National Insurance number or claim benefits
  • cross checking benefit and HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) records to find benefit cheats

For more information, visit the Gov.uk website.

Last updated: Wed 26th March, 2014 @ 16:33

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