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Welfare benefit fraud resources

By selecting one of the topics below you will be able to access Welfare Benefit Fraud legislation, research materials, some notable cases and links to relevant websites.

Refer to Part 5 of the Act to access the provisions relating to the recovery of overpayments.

The Legislation

Crime legislation

Welfare Reform Act 2012
There are relevant provisions in relation to benefit fraud in Part 5 of the Act. The topics covered include: Investigation and prosecution of offences’, Penalties as alternative to prosecution, Civil penalties and Tax credit fraud.

Social Security Administration Act 1992
s.111A Dishonest representations for obtaining benefit etc.(original text only)
s. 112 False representations for obtaining benefit etc (original text only)

Welfare Benefits legislation

Welfare Reform Act 2012
Refer to Part 5 of the Act to access the provisions relating to the recovery of overpayments.

Social Security Administration Act 1992
s. 71 overpayment due to misrepresentation or a disclose (original text only)

Social Security (Claims and Payments) Regulations 1987 (SI 1968)
Reg. 32 Information to be given and changes to be notified

Housing Benefit Regulations 2006 (SI 213)
Reg.88 Duty to report
Reg. 99 Meaning of overpayment
Reg. 100 Recoverable overpayments

Practice Guidance

Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE)

PACE Codes of Practice

Welfare Rights Aspects of Benefit Fraud (Notes from a presentation given to the SSLPA 2007)

Welfare Rights Checklist (Criminal and Social Security Aspects of Benefit Fraud)

Tactics in Respect of Advising and Representing Clients at Benefit Fraud Interviews (Presentation to the SSLPA 2007)

Benefit Fraud Sentencing Guidelines (taken from the Sentencing Guidelines Council)

Fraud and Error in the Benefit System (Oct 2008 – Sept 2009) DWP series of reports covering updates in fraud and error in Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance, Pension Credit and Housing Benefit and across the whole benefit system from March 2006

DWP’s Overpayment Recovery Guide (updated June 2007). Contains guidance on the DWP’s policy and procedures for overpayment recovery including; recovery by compensation order following fraud prosecution; secretary of state’s discretion; administrative penalty.

DWP Sanction Policy: In Respect of Fraudulent Social Security Benefit Claims (Apr 2010). Sets out the policy of the DWP towards sanctions, including criminal prosecutions for offences relating to benefit fraud.

Secretary of State’s guidance on waiving overpayment recovery

Case Law

Crime case law

R v Reasat (2013)
The defendant was a tenant. Her landlord was her brother. She claimed housing benefit and council tax benefit. On the claim forms she recorded that she was not related to her landlord. She was charged with dishonestly making two false statements which had led to benefits of £40,500 being fraudulently obtained. She pleaded not guilty but was convicted by a jury. She had a severely disabled son who was dependent upon her. The judge sentenced her to six months’ immediate imprisonment. Social services reported that the son had had an extreme reaction to his mother’s imprisonment and developed suicidal tendencies. Her appeal against sentence was dismissed. The Court of Appeal decided that the judge had already taken her family circumstances into account and had passed a sentence which had been ‘merciful’ on the facts.
[2013] EWCA Crim 5/9/2013. Reported at (2013) All ER (D) 43 (Sept)

R v Wearing (2011) (no link available)
The Crown Court found W guilty of an office of failing to supply prompt notification that she was cohabitation with a partner when she was in receipt of Income Support as a single parent . A social security tribunal allowed her appeal against the overpayment decision based on a finding that she was no cohabiting. At the Proceeds of Crime Act proceedings the Court Court refused to adjourn in the light of the tribunal’s decision. The Court of Appeal found that in the instant case, the Crown Court had not been bound by the tribunal’s decision. A judgment in a lower tier tribunal could not be binding on a superior count of record. The criminal trial had been conducted to the criminal standard. In those circumstances, the convictions were safe.
[2011] EWCA Crim 3140 17/11/2013

Coventry City Council v Vassell (2011)
Regarding the liability of person under the Social Security Administration Act 1992 s.112 (1A) of failing to notify of a change in circumstances that would affect person’s entitlement to benefits and emphases the need to show mens rea, in contrast to the tests for overpayments in social security law. Judgment was given by Mr Justice Hickinbottom , who was previously the Chief Social Security Commissioner . The case demonstrates importance of viewing some benefit fraud offences in the context of social security law.
An article prompted by this case was written in the Law Society Gazette: Benefit Claims.
[2011] EWHC 1542 (Admin) (17 June 2011).

Croydon London Borough Council v Shanahan (2010)
The council claimed that the defendant had failed to notify it that she had started work, with the result that she had been overpaid housing benefit and council tax benefits. It prosecuted for that alleged offence and two further offences of failing to notify an increase in her child tax credit and the commencement of working tax credit, both consequent upon her employment. The judge decided that only the first matter needed to go to the jury. The council appealed. The Court of Appeal upheld the judge. The earnings from the allegedly undisclosed wages were sufficient to eliminate entitlement to benefits and nothing would be added by trying the other charges.
[2010] EWCA Crim 98 5/2/2010

R (Sedgefield Borough Council) v Dickinson (2009) (no link available)
Council had not received notification of claimant’s change in circumstances despite his insistence that he had infact completed and sent the relevant forms. Judgment found the burden of responsibility to disclose fell to the claimant. However in any criminal proceedings the burden would be on the Council to prove the criminal standard.
[2009] EWHC 2758 (Admin) 13/10/2009

R v Tilley (2009)
Defendant’s partner had failed to give notification of a change in her circumstances relating to her social security benefits when her benefits and the defendant’s wages had been paid into the same bank account. This did not make the defendant criminally liable as he had not actively caused the failure to report.
[2009] EWCA Crim 1426 20/7/2009. Reported at (2009) 2 Cr App R 31.

R v Dursun Zorlu (2009) (no link available)
Judgment found that “living with” someone was an imprecise concept and could not be used to convict appellant who had failed to notify that she was living with her husband.
[2009] EWCA Crim 589 3/3/2009

R v Passmore (2007)
Re. effect of a failure to disclose a change in circumstances with regards to benefit claims.
[2007] EWCA Crim 2053 18/6/2007

R v Parmer (2006)
Sentencing and potential entitlement to Working Tax Credit relevant to mitigation.
24/3/2006. Reported at [2006] All ER (D) 366 (Mar),

King v Kerrier District Council (2006)
[2006] EWHC 500 (Admin) 27/2/2006

Eyeson v Milton Keynes Council (2005)
Failure to disclose receipt of increased working families tax credit entitlement.
[2005] EWHC 1160 (Admin) 8/3/2005

R v Graham and Whatley (2004)
General guidance to sentencing in cases of benefit fraud.
[2004] EWCA Crim 2755, [2005] 1 Cr App R(S) 110.

R v Knight (Philip) (2003) (no link available)
Adverse inference from silence in police interview – prepared statement.
[2003] EWCA Crim 1997 29/7/2003. Reported at [2004] 1 WLR 340, [2004] 1 Cr App R 9; [2003] Crim LR 799.

R v McGarry (1998)
Adverse inference from silence in police interview – prepared statement.
[1998] EWCA Crim 2364. 16/7/1998. Reported at [1999] 1 WLR 1500 [1998] 3 All ER 805, [1999] Cr App R 377; [1999] Crim LR 316

R v Stewart and others (1987)
Re sentencing and social security fraud.
[1987] EWCA 24/3/1987. Reported at 1987 9 Cr. App. R. (S)

Overpayments Case Law

R v (1) Tracey Nolan (2) Alison Howard (2012)
A failure to notify the benefits agency of a benefits overpayment, although dishonest, did not constitute fraudulent activity as defined by the Tax Credits Act 2002 s.35.
[2012] EWCA Crim 671 4/4/2012

R (Child Poverty Action Group) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (2009)
Common law could not be employed to recover overpaid benefit where the cause of the overpayment had been an error and not a result of non-disclosure or misrepresentation by the recipient.
[2009] EWCA 1058 14/10/2009. Reported at Times, October 21, 2009

CSB/347/1983
Disclosure and duty of adjudication officers to provide evidence of their efforts in establishing that no disclosure was made by defendant.
Commissioner Jones 6/12/1983.

For more cases on overpayments see the search engine on Commissioners’ website

Links to other Useful Sites and Research

Disclaimer

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