What is Benefit Fraud

The laws against illegal claiming of benefits

The welfare system is considered by many in the UK to be the sacred cow of our liberal, social democratic system. This is because the welfare system is there to help the less fortunate and give people a helping hand when things in their lives don’t come together in the desired way. A large part of this is the benefits system, whereby people who cannot work, are full time carers, or are looking for a job, are provided with payments by the state to make sure they have money and shelter. It is sadly the case, however, that some people take this system as an opportunity to commit fraud against the taxpayer and the state. Benefit fraud is a fairly large scale problem in the UK, with the government estimating that benefit fraud costs the country an annual amount of £1.1 billion. The problem comes because the large numbers of people legitimately claiming benefits makes the system very hard to police and regulate effectively.

What is benefit fraud?

Benefit fraud occurs when an individual does not provide accurate or truthful information about themselves when applying for state benefits. This dishonesty results in that individual receiving state benefits that they do not qualify for, thereby committing fraud against the UK taxpayer and, by extension, the UK state. The main ways that a person can commit benefit fraud are:

  • not providing information about other benefits that they are receiving
  • not providing details of their partner living with them or starting employment
  • claiming benefits for people who no longer live with them, such as children
  • not providing information or give inaccurate information about the amount of savings that they have
  • not reporting that they are moving home, going abroad or are living abroad
  • not reporting that they have inherited some money.

Benefit fraud essentially amounts to obtaining services through the dishonest use or withholding of information that is vitally important to assessing whether an individual meets the qualification criteria to receive state benefits.

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