What do we do
The benefit system relies on the honesty of
our customers and despite a minority, most people can be found
within this category. Bassetlaw District Council has an
Investigation Unit to deter or stop them from entering the system,
or to identify any benefit payments that are being made to people
who should not be receiving them.
The Unit is made up of specially trained staff
that investigates any suspected or alleged cases of fraud regarding
Housing benefit or Council Tax Benefit. We also work closely
with the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) involving cases or
fraud with other state benefits such as Income Support, Jobseekers
Allowance, Incapacity Benefit and Guarantee Pension Credit.
What might constitute a Fraud
Housing Benefit/Council Tax Benefit fraud
Working and claiming fraud usually involves claimants who are in
receipt of Housing Benefit/Council Tax Benefit on the basis of
entitlement to Job Seekers Allowance/Income Support, but who are in
fact working. Or maybe, they have not told us the true extent of
their work or wages.
Non-disclosure of property/capital
This fraud is where a claimant fails to declare either
savings/capital or the ownership of another property/land elsewhere
(for which they may be receiving rent or may have recently
Non-disclosure of income
This is where the claimant fails to declare all of their income,
knowing or intending that non-declaration will increase their
Non -disclosure of partner (living together as husband
This fraud usually involves a claimant on Benefit who fails to
declare the presence of a partner who maybe working or not, knowing
or intending that this would affect their entitlement.
Non-declaration of non-dependants and/or
It is fraudulent if a claimant fails to declare the presence of
other adults living in the property, in order to preserve or
increase entitlement to benefit.
False claims by homeowners
This is where the owner of a property falsely states that he or
she is paying rent to occupy what is, in fact, his or her own
property, usually inventing a fictitious landlord to do so.
Failing to declare change of address
Where a claimant fails to declare that he/she has moved, but
continues to accept payments of Housing Benefit for their previous
address, they are committing a fraud.
False address fraud
This fraud may occur where a person is claiming for an address at
which he or she is not in fact living. This type of offence may
occur with the collusion of the landlord or other tenants.
This is where a landlord continues to receive benefit paid directly
to him/her for a period after which he/she is aware that the
claimant has vacated the premises. Where the landlord has access to
more than one property, there is the potential to move tenants
around without informing the Local Authority.
The Legal framework
The Social Security Administration (Fraud) Act 1992 places a
statutory obligation upon Local Authorities to investigate and
detect all allegations of fraud within the Council Tax and Housing
Benefit System. Benefit Fraud Investigators must work within the
law examples of which are:
- The Police and Criminal evidence Act 1984 (PACE)
- The Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act 1996 (CPIA)
- The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA)
- The Human Rights Act 1998
- Data Protection 1998
- Social Security Administration (Fraud) Act 1997
- Social Security Fraud Act 2001
- The Theft (Amendment) Act 1996
- The Fraud Act 2006
There are a number of sanctions available to impose on a
claimant who has committed a benefit offence.
In some cases an investigation may uncover an overpayment but it is
not appropriate to take criminal action, however the overpayment
will be recovered in full.
This is offered as an alternative to prosecution in cases where an
investigation has been undertaken and the Council believes that
sufficient evidence has been gathered to suggest an offence has
been committed. The overpayment in addition to a fine, valued at
30% of the recoverable overpayment, must be repaid to the Council.
In accepting the penalty the suspect is not admitting that he or
she has committed an offence but if they refuse the Administration
Penalty, they may be prosecuted.
Local Authority Caution
These are similar to a Police caution and can also be offered as an
alternative to prosecution. Before a caution can be issued the
suspect must have been 'interviewed under caution' and he or she
must have admitted that he or she has committed an offence. The
Local Authority Caution does not give the suspect a criminal record
but it can be cited in Court should (s)he be subsequently convicted
of a Benefit Offence.
In cases where serious benefit fraud is suspected, Bassetlaw
District Council will consider prosecution. These cases are
normally heard in a Magistrate's Court but the more serious cases
may be dealt with in a Crown Court.
|No of referrals received
No of investigations undertaken
|No of cases where fraud identified
|No of prosecutions
|No of penalties administered
|No of cautions
Rights and powers of the investigator
Designated and properly trained investigators can seek information
from contractors and the self employed under the Social Security
Administration Act 1992, Section 110A and 109B & C. Our
Code of practice
out our rights and Powers as Investigators and the procedures we
- Anti Fraud Strategy
- Sanction Policy
Last Updated - 18/04/2013