Benefit Fraud

Benefit Fraud


Legislation: Social Security Administration Act 1992 / Fraud Act 2006

For the purposes of this note, the focus will be on the Social Security Administration Act, as this appears to be the most-commonly used Act for charging benefit fraud offences.  Furthermore, the CPS guidance refers to this rather than the Fraud Act.


1. Dishonest offences:

  • Dishonestly making a false statement or representation (s.111(1)(a) SSAA 1992)
  • Dishonestly producing a false document or allowing it to be produced (s.111(1)(b) SSAA 1992)
  • Dishonestly failing to promptly notify of a change in circumstances affecting benefit (s.111(1A) SSAA 1992)
  • Dishonestly failing to notify of a change in circumstances affecting another person’s benefit (s.111(1B) SSAA 1992)

2. Non-dishonest offences:

  • s. 112 – as per the above but lacking the mental element of dishonesty.


Mode of trial: Dishonest offences are triable either-way.  Non-dishonest offences are triable only summarily.

Maximum sentence: Dishonest offences – 6 months/7 years on indictment.  Non-dishonest offences – fine not exceeding level 5 and/or 3 months


  • False statement / representation:

Lying about employment; i.e. telling the benefit agency that you are unemployed when in fact you are working and getting paid for that work.

  • False document:

Producing a false identity document; i.e. a document pertaining to give a national insurance number (necessary when claiming benefit) when in fact you are not entitled to a NINO.

  • Change in circumstances:

Starting work/ceasing to claim JSA; i.e. failing to inform the relevant authority of the cessation of Job-Seekers allowance/commencement of employment.

  • Change in circumstances affecting another’s benefit:

Where X is responsible for Y and Y moves out of the remit of the benefit agency; i.e. X has power of attorney in relation to Y.  Y lives in Greenwich and claims housing benefit and council tax benefit (lawfully) from LocalAuthorityA.  X then moves Y to LocalAuthorityB.  X is obliged to inform LocalAuthorityA of the move, as thereafter LocalAuthorityB becomes liable to pay Y’s benefit.

CPS guidance can be found here


This post is sponsored by Defence Solicitors London


Sara is a barrister at Doughty Street Chambers practising in crime.