Client Guide to Benefit Fraud Interviews

Our guide has been prepared  in response to concerns raised by many of our clients at advice they have been given not to attend this process - we would urge potential clients to be wary if they are given such instructions.

What Happens During An Investigation?

The first time you will be aware of the investigation is when the DWP, local authority or other agency write to you asking you to attend an interview.

You will be told that you have the right to be represented by a lawyer.

•    However the investigation process begins well before the interview.

•    By the time the interview takes place the agency will have obtained most of the information/evidence relevant to their case. In certain cases they may even have conducted surveillance evidence.

•    At the interview you will be asked questions about your benefit claims. Your lawyer will advise you on how to respond.

•    After the interview you may receive an overpayment letter stating how much you owe. At this stage you must consult a lawyer as you have a month to appeal this decision.

•    Your file may be sent to the CPS or prosecuting agency for a decision on whether to prosecute.

Alternatives to Prosecution

Specialist advice is essential to anyone accused of an overpayment or benefit fraud.

The agency investigating a case will have its own policy setting when an individual should be prosecuted or offered an alternative to prosecution.

An experienced lawyer, familiar with the benefit fraud prosecuting policies of the investigating agencies may be able to intervene and persuade the not to proceed.

What are the Alternatives to Prosecution

The Council and DWP have various sanctions available to them in the event that it has been established that an offence has been committed.

1.    No Action

This is a very rare sanction which is only ever utilised if the Council/DWP concede that the overpayment in benefits resulted from an official error.

2.    Caution

Cautions are now only available to local borough councils. A caution for the purposes of a benefit fraud investigation is not a formal police caution and will therefore NOT appear on a CRB check.

3.    Administrative Penalty

An administrative penalty (Ad Pen) is an offer to pay a financial penalty.

When Will an Alternative to Prosecution Be Considered?

You should consult a lawyer for specialist advice. The factors that are relevant vary from case to case and every agency has a different policy.

What Factors Will be Considered When Deciding Whether to Prosecute?

When deciding if there should be a prosecution the CPS guidelines must be considered. Even at this stage a specialist lawyer may be able to persuade the investigating agency not to prosecute.

What Happens During An Investigation?

The first time you will be aware of the investigation is when the agency write to you asking you to attend an interview. You will be told that you have the right to be represented by a lawyer and there is legal aid funding available for this.

•    However the investigation process begins well before the interview.

•    By the time the interview takes place the agency will have obtained most of the information/evidence relevant to their case. In certain cases they may even have conducted surveillance evidence.

•    At the interview you will be asked questions about your benefit claims. Yur lawyer will advise you on how to respond.

•    After the interview you may  receive an overpayment letter stating how much you owe. At this stage you must consult a lawyer as you have a month to appeal this decision.

•    Your file may be sent to the CPS or prosecuting agency for a decision on whether to prosecute.