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