Have you been invited to attend for a benefit fraud interview under caution?
There are many different kinds of state benefits that those who may be struggling to find work or are unable to work for whatever reason are entitled to, such as Job Seekers Allowance, Income Support, Incapacity Benefit, Disability Living Allowance, Housing and Council Tax Benefit and many more.
If you are claiming benefits for any reason, you have an ongoing duty to the Department of Work and Pensions and/or your local Council to disclose a change in your circumstances which might affect your entitlement to claim any of those benefits. A change in your circumstances which might affect your entitlement could be, for example, that you have recently moved in with your partner, or you might have obtained paid employment. It may be that you are still entitled to some benefits even with this change in your circumstances, however you must still report this change to the authorities.
If you fail to notify the authorities of a change in your circumstances, which you know, or ought to know, affects your entitlement to claiming benefits then you could be committing an offence of benefit fraud, which, depending on the seriousness of the offence, could result in a summons to Court, and even imprisonment. The maximum sentence for an offence of benefit fraud is 10 years imprisonment.
If an authority has reason to suspect that you might be guilty of an offence, then the first thing they will do is conduct their own enquiries which may include surveillance. If they believe you may be guilty of an offence they will send you a letter informing you of this and inviting you into their offices for an interview ‘under caution’. This is similar to attending an interview at the Police Station although usually you will not be under arrest and you will attend voluntarily. It is worth bearing in mind however, that if you fail to attend for a voluntary interview, you could be at risk of arrest.
Depending on your income, you may be entitled to free and independent legal advice and representation at an interview under caution in this situation and we at Emery Johnson frequently advise on such matters. If you have received a letter inviting you to come in for an interview under caution, or if you have received a summons to Court, we will be able to assist you!