Benefit Fraud Penalties
The punishments for benefit fraud vary depending on the amount of money involved and whether or not you have a history of committing fraud.
If you have been accused of benefit fraud and found guilty, the minimum that will happen is that you will be required to pay back all of the money you have fraudulently claimed. However, it is also possible that:
- You will be taken to court.
- You will be asked to pay a penalty of anything between £350 and £5,000.
- Your benefits may be reduced or stopped altogether.
What happens if you commit benefit fraud?
Once you have been found guilty of benefit fraud, your benefits can be stopped for up to three years from the date of the conviction. The amount of time that they’re stopped for depends largely on how many times you have committed fraud.
Remember: only certain benefits can be stopped or reduced, these are called ‘sanctionable benefits’, and include:
- Carer’s allowance
- Employment allowance
- Income support
- Job Seeker’s Allowance
- Housing benefit
- Council tax benefit
- Universal credit
- Working tax credit
There are other types of punishments benefit cheats that can’t be stopped or reduced after you’ve been found guilty of fraud. For the full list, visit the official government website.
There are also a wide variety of benefits that can’t be stopped or reduced, even if you’ve been found guilty of benefit fraud. These include:
- Bereavement payment
- Child benefit
- Child tax credit
- Disability living allowance
- Graduated retirement benefit
- Personal independence payment
- State pension
- War pension
However, if you claim any of these benefits and are found guilty of benefit fraud or have been charged with a penalty for benefit fraud, your other benefits may still be stopped or reduced.
If you are convicted of benefit fraud, you will receive a criminal record and, if the offence is particularly serious, you could have your home and possessions confiscated or even face a prison sentence.