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What happens when a person is under investigation?

If we have reason to carry out an investigation into a claim, we will firstly gather evidence to establish whether the suspicion is correct. 

Following this, we will work out how much benefit a person has incorrectly claimed. 

Then we decide what is the most appropriate way to deal with any potential offences. In making this decision we take many factors into consideration, including (but not only) whether there have been any previous investigations into the claim, what the suspected offences are, the length of time that they have continued and amount of benefit that may have been incorrectly claimed.

If this is the first investigation into a claim, the overpayment of benefit is low and the alleged offence did not continue for long, we may either send a letter to remind of their responsibilities whilst claiming Housing Benefit and/or Council Tax Benefit to prevent further investigations into your claim, or ask a customer to attend an informal interview to discuss the alleged offences. The customer will be required to repay any benefit that has been incorrectly claimed.

In other cases, it may be considered at this stage that a sanction might be appropriate in your case and you will be invited to attend a tape recorded interview under caution. This interview is carried out under the “Police and Criminal Evidence Act” and is the opportunity for the customer to comment on the evidence held and give an explanation of the alleged offences. After the interview process is complete, the case will be referred for a decision to be made on any further action to be taken. The possible outcomes at this stage are:

  • The investigation may be closed with no sanction although the customer will usually be required to repay any benefit that has been overpaid.
  • If the offences have been fully admitted during the interview under caution, a customer may be given the opportunity to accept a formal caution as an alternative to being prosecuted. This will only usually be considered in first time offences and will depend on the amount of overpaid benefit and period of offences. Customers will also be required to repay any overpaid benefit.
  • Customers may be given the option to pay an administrative penalty as an alternative to prosecution. This is a fixed 30% of the amount of overpaid benefit which a customer will have to pay in addition to the repaying the overpayment. Again this will only usually be considered in first time offences and will depend on the amount of overpaid benefit and period of offences.
  • If it is considered that a sanction is appropriate in your case but a caution or administrative penalty cannot be considered, prosecution will be authorised and the case passed to Solicitors to proceed with the matter. Compensation may be requested for the overpaid benefit to be repaid through the court but the customer will be required to repay the whole of the overpayment regardless of this.
  • A customer may also be subject to Loss of Benefits rules. 

Please note that a sanction will still be considered for customers who choose not to attend an interview under caution, and because a caution or an administrative penalty cannot be considered in these circumstances, the customer is likely to be prosecuted.

To report suspected Housing Benefit and/or Council Tax Support Fraud within the Redditch area:

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This page was last reviewed 27 November 2014 at 16:12 by Paul Stephenson.
The page is next due for review 26 May 2015.
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Redditch Borough Council, The Town Hall, Walter Stranz Square, Redditch, B98 8AH - Directions to Council Offices