Difficulties regarding benefits are increasingly an issue for people. At a time when there are seemingly endless changes to the way benefits are distributed it is all too easy to fall foul of the legislation, simply by being unware of your rights and responsibilities. At Qamar Solicitors we understand how important it is to protect your benefits, and we strive to ensure that you and your family are provided for during what can be a stressful and anxious time.
What is benefit fraud?
There are a number of actions which might be considered as benefit fraud – and these actions can be either deliberate - or genuine mistakes.
They might include giving false or inaccurate information to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), a Jobcentre or the council. If you are worried that you might have unintentionally misled officials regarding your status as a recipient of benefits (for example, if there are changes to the number of people living in your home, or if you have been able to earn money in a part-time job), it is very important to notify the appropriate agencies as soon as possible. If you fail to do so, you may find that you receive a letter asking you to attend a local council office or a DWP office to be interview under caution.
When might I be asked to attend a benefit interview?
You may be asked to attend a benefit interview if investigators have reason to suspect that you have deliberately misled them. They may believe there is something which affects your benefits which you have deliberately failed to tell them, because you do not want your benefits reduced.
If you are suspected of having undertaken fraudulent activities, you will be interviewed under caution, in a very similar way to interviews undertaken at a police station.
However, it is important to remember that you have not necessarily done anything wrong, only that they wish to understand your position, and the benefits you are entitled to.
Who will carry out the interview?
Depending on your circumstances and where you live, you may be interviewed by the DWP, your local authority, or someone from the Single Fraud Investigation Service.
They will read out a caution explaining your rights, and the interview will be recorded.
What is a compliance interview?
A compliance interview is slightly different from an interview under caution. These are spot checks undertaken by the Compliance Section. If you are asked to attend a Compliance Interview you are not suspected of fraudulent activity: it is just a random check to ensure they have all the right details.
How can we help?
You are entitled to seek legal advice – and it is best to do so as soon as you have received the letter asking you attend the interview. Contact the expert benefits and criminal defence lawyers at Qamar Solicitors who will ensure you are fully supported during the interview. We will help you understand precisely what the interview is intended to achieve, possible outcomes, and provide an accurate and full account of your activities.
The law surrounding benefit fraud can be complex and intimidating, and with Qamar Solicitors acting on your behalf we can make sure you are fully prepared for the interview, and help prevent you from being unfairly treated or prosecuted.
Legal aid is no longer available for benefit interviews, and we understand that you need an efficient, effective service that offers true value for money.