Benefits fraud has been growing rampantly since the onset of COVID-19 with 14.5 percent of Universal Credit (UC) payments made last year being overpaid. Claimants could risk being charged with benefits fraud if they do not report errors on their payments or update their circumstances and details accordingly.
UC along with Carer’s Allowance, Pension Credit and an array of other benefits are classed as ‘sanctionable’.
Sanctionable benefits can be reduced or stopped under a variety of circumstances, including if one is being investigated or has been found guilty of benefits fraud.
Claimants found guilty can also face fines between £350 and £5,000 alongside paying back the benefits they fraudulently received.
Benefits fraud is not always committed knowingly by benefit recipients, as it is often thought of as falsifying information in order to claim or receive more benefits.
Whilst this is a type of benefits fraud, other more common types include:
- Not reporting a change in circumstances
- Not disclosing income, savings, capital, property or an increase in wages
- Stating false address, tenants or homeowners
As UC itself is highly dependent on one’s income and savings it is vital that claimants keep this information as up to date as possible to avoid mistakenly claiming fraudulent benefits.
If one has been reported or is suspected of benefits fraud they will be contacted by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), HMRC, the Service and Personnel and Veterans Agency or the local authority.
Additionally, no payments can be stopped or reduced if someone is guilty of benefit fraud but claims one of the following:
- Maternity Allowance
- Statutory Adoption Pay
- Statutory Maternity Pay
- Statutory Paternity Pay
- Statutory Sick Pay