Giving false information and failing to tell us of a change in your circumstances are the most common types of fraud.
There are mainly two kinds of fraud offences:
- Giving false information about your benefit claim
- Failing to tell us about a change of circumstances when you know it may affect your claim
However, these offences can turn up in many different situations. For some examples, see below:
Failing to tell us about all of your income. This could be earnings, tax credits, maintenance payments, other benefits, pensions or any other source of income.
Ahmed put on his housing benefit claim form that he works in a warehouse for 25 hours a week. He also does some shifts at the local pub, but he did not put this down on his claim form, because the work was cash in hand. This is benefit fraud.
Alan has been receiving a pension from an old job he had since 2001. He has not told us about it because he considers the money to be his own private money, and nothing to do with the council. This is benefit fraud.
Mary started to receive working tax credit last year, but she has not reported this to us. She assumed that if she told us, we would stop, or reduce, her benefit and she did not think she could manage on less money. This is benefit fraud.
Sue's husband completes a claim form, but she notices he has failed to put down earnings from her cleaning job. Sue signs the form as a partner, thinking that if it ever comes up, she will say she just signed the form without reading it. This is benefit fraud.
Failing to tell us about all of your savings and capital. Capital includes bank and building society accounts, ISAs, shares, bonds and any property that you own elsewhere.
Colin has an ISA account with £2,500 in it. His wife Sandra has some shares, but does not know how much they are worth. She also has a bank account with £900 in it and there is a joint account worth £4,500. Where the housing benefit claim form asks about savings, they only put down the ISA and the joint account. They miss out the shares and Sandra's own account. This is benefit fraud.
If you move out and you know benefit is still being paid, you are committing an offence. If you are a landlord and you know your tenant has moved out, but you do not tell us, you are committing an offence.
Melanie leaves her flat in Aldershot and moves back home with her parents in Luton. She does not tell us and continues to receive benefit payments for her Aldershot home, even though she does not pay rent there now. This is benefit fraud.
Doug leaves his home, owing £2,000 to his landlord and £350 worth of damages to the flat. The landlord is still receiving Doug's housing benefit. Nobody tells us that Doug has left and the landlord keeps the benefit payments until six months later, when the debt is cleared. Then the landlord tells us that Doug moved out last week. This is benefit fraud.
Failing to tell us about your partner (same or opposite sex) when you claim, or failing to tell us when your partner (same or opposite sex) moves in.
Sarah's boyfriend Adam moved out last year and she told us about it. We amended her claim and increased her benefit. Six months later, Adam moved back in. Sarah has been meaning to tell us, but has not got round to it yet. She has got used to the extra money now and could do with keeping it for a while, just in case things don't work out with her and Adam. This is benefit fraud.
False rent proof
Providing false rent proof, or tampering with existing rent proof, is an offence. It is also fraudulent if you claim for a tenancy that has been created to take advantage of the benefit system. It is possible for a landlord to commit fraud related to false rent proof, as well as a tenant.
Simon is living rent free in his friend Pete's house while Pete is out of the country. Simon makes a claim for housing benefit and creates a fake tenancy agreement, showing £120 weekly rent. This is benefit fraud.
A landlord has an empty flat in Farnborough. He makes an arrangement with one of his Aldershot tenants to create a pretend tenancy for the Farnborough property. The tenant makes a benefit claim, saying that he has a tenancy at the Farnborough flat. He then shares the benefit he receives with the landlord. This is benefit fraud.