What is benefit fraud?
This is a complicated area but, roughly, fraud means deliberately giving false information or not telling the DWP or council something because you know, or should suspect, that you will be better off as a result.
So, when you go to an interview under caution the investigators will want to find out whether:
- there is something you should have told them about that affects your benefits; and
- you deliberately misled them about it; and
- you should have understood that, because of this, you’d get more (or wouldn't lose) benefits.
Be aware: Some councils interpret the rules very strictly and look at every case where someone has misled them and been overpaid. They may still treat it as fraud even if they decide that you didn’t do it deliberately or to get more benefit. If you think your council is doing this, get advice; it’s only really fraud if you misled them knowing (or suspecting) that you could get more benefit than you’re entitled to.
Although it's usually to do with your benefits, they may interview you under caution if they think you have helped someone else to claim benefits fraudulently. For example, if you rent a house to someone and have told the council that the rent is higher than it is so as to help your tenant to get more Housing Benefit you could still be investigated for benefit fraud.
Appointees: If you are someone’s appointee (you are formally responsible for the benefits of someone who can't manage them for themselves) you can be held responsible for fraud on their claim: follow the advice in this guide, for or with the person you help.
If one office, for example at the DWP, spots a problem that may affect another one, for example, at the council, they usually pass the information on. They may decide to interview you jointly, or treat the two things as separate problems – so for example you may get one interview for a problem with Job Seekers Allowance and Housing Benefit, or you may get two interviews – and possibly two different results.
The DWP or council should only ask you to come to an interview under caution if they suspect that your actions may have been fraudulent. But remember: it doesn’t mean that you have done anything wrong just because they want to interview you.