What is Benefit Fraud?
The generalised term ‘Benefit Fraud’ covers a wide range of criminal type of offences. The most common can be described as when someone obtains a benefit they are not entitled to such as Housing Benefit, Council Tax Reduction or Job Seeker’s Allowance (JSA). It can also be when someone deliberately fails to report a change in their personal circumstances that would affect their entitlement.
The most common examples of benefit fraud are as follows –
- Giving information or evidence which you know to be false
- Failure to notify a change in your circumstances which you know affects your benefit or tax credit
- Knowing you were acting dishonestly when you gave incorrect information or evidence, or failed to report a change
This list above is merely the most common examples, there are many other scenarios that would constitute benefit fraud.
Is Benefit Fraud a serious offence?
Benefit fraud is a serious criminal offence, and depending on the charge and the overpayment amount, can in certain, severe circumstances, carry a lengthy prison sentence of up to 7 years.
Would cases of Benefit Fraud go to court?
We have found that more and more of these cases are being prosecuted and therefore are heard before a Criminal Court.
The case is more likely to proceed to Court if –
- the overpayment is over £2000
- The overpayment has gone on for many years
- The defendant has previous convictions for the same.
There are many other scenarios that would cause the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to prosecute these cases. It almost all cases, if there has been an overpayment, the relevant authorities will seek to recover these monies.
If you are suspected of having committed a ‘benefit fraud’ offence, it is VITAL that you are represented throughout the entire course of proceedings, from the initial interview to subsequently appearing before the Court. Please contact us straight away so we can assist you from the outset.
We can represent you at interview, free of charge, if you are in receipt of a passported benefit (i.e. ESA, JSA, State Pension Credit) or if your income is below the financial threshold – please contact us immediately so we can advise you as to your eligibility from a cost perspective.
Why choose Williamsons Solicitors?
Our Criminal Defence Department has extensive experience in dealing with these cases – we have a highly experienced team of Solicitors who are supported by a team of experienced Accredited Police Station Representatives whose job it is to assist the lawyers in the preparatory work when matters are at Court.
Can I get Public Funding (Legal Aid)?
Public Funding is available to those who qualify. There are two qualifying criteria namely:
- Financial eligibility
- The interests of justice test
Any member of our team would be able to tell you whether you are likely to qualify for Legal Aid.
If you do not, then we will be more than happy to deal with you on a private fee-paying basis and we will be happy to give you details of our charge out rates.
At Williamsons, our aim is to achieve the best possible outcome for you in your case.
If you are worried about or believe that you have committed Benefit Fraud it is very important that you contact us immediately, so we can advise, assist and represent you throughout these proceedings.W