Benefit Fraud - Frequently Asked Questions
I have heard that Northumberland County Council fraud
investigators can actually carry out surveillance on me if they
think I am claiming benefit fraudulently and they can get copies of
my phone records and bank statements. Is this correct?
YES. All benefit investigators can carry out
various types of surveillance on your property or you personally to
determine if benefit is being paid correctly. In addition
they have the power to obtain various details about you to help
them come to their decision. It is important to note
surveillance and the obtaining of information from other agencies
can only be done by following very strict rules and procedures.
All of the investigators work complies with the human rights
act and the Data Protection act 1984. Investigators must have
strong grounds before the authorisation for surveillance would be
I have recently received a letter from the
benefit fraud section asking me to attend an interview as they
believe I have been working. Can you tell me what will
This is an interview under caution and in
strict compliance with the Police & Criminal Evidence act 1984.
It is your opportunity to answer any questions connected with
your claim and clarify any points that the investigation officers
raise. You will be told at the interview what the next course
of action will be.
I am being prosecuted for benefit fraud.
Does this mean that the money I was overpaid will be written
off and I won’t have to repay it?
NO. The overpayment of benefit and the
prosecution are treated completely separately. If you have
obtained money to which you were not entitled you will be required
to repay the money irrespective of any sanction that is imposed.
In addition even if you pay back the money prior to any
prosecution you will still be taken to court for the original
I have been found guilty of benefit fraud,
will my employers be told?
The investigation officers will not inform
your employers of the outcome of the case. However the court
case is open to the public so the information is freely available.
In addition the council publicises all of its prosecutions in
the local paper and on the Northumberland County Council website so
your employer may find out about it that way.
I claim benefit as a single person. I’ve
heard that I can have my partner stay no more than three nights a
week is this true?
NO it’s not true. This is a common
misconception. The benefit office takes absolutely no account
of the number of days any partner may stay over. To determine
if the claim as a single person is genuine it takes account of the
whole picture and looks at the whole relationship.
I have had a change in my circumstances, whom
should I tell about this?
You must notify the council of any change in
your circumstances as soon as it happens. This must be made
in writing. It is of vital importance that you do not rely on
anyone else or any other organisation to tell the council of any
changes to your circumstances. Do not rely on the Department
for Work & Pensions to advise us when your Job Seekers
allowance/Income Support/ESA has ended.
I am thinking of doing a mutual exchange on a
property but the property I want to move to needs a lot of work.
Will the council pay Housing Benefit while I am living
elsewhere but I am carrying out the necessary work?
NO. Housing Benefit is paid on the basis
that you occupy the house you are claiming Housing Benefit on as
your home. Housing Benefit would only start once you have
moved in. If you are in any doubt about eligibility to
receive Housing Benefit under these circumstances, contact the
council on 0845 600 6400.
My partner works away for weeks / months at a
time. Can I claim benefit as a single person and also get 25%
discount on my Council Tax?
NO. Even though your partner may work
away for long periods the main home is still the family home and as
such any claim for benefit must be made as a couple including the
income of your partner.
Fraud Hotline: 01670 502444
Secure Fraud Fax: 01670 843215
Benefit Fraud Investigations Team
Northumberland County Council