How to handle an interview under caution: What about my benefits?
If you've been paid too much
If the DWP or council is looking at whether you committed fraud, it is likely to be because they also think you’ve been paid too much benefit.
If the benefits section sends you a written decision saying that you have been overpaid, and you don’t agree and want to appeal, then you will need to move quickly to make sure that you don’t miss the appeal deadline.
You should be very careful what you say when you contact the DWP or council as the fraud section may bring it up again later. Try and get an adviser to help you if you need to contact them. See 'Before the interview'.
Remember: don’t ever be tempted to agree to anything that you don’t think is true (for example, agree that you’ve been paid too much) in the hope that it will stop the fraud investigation.
During the fraud investigation
The DWP or council shouldn’t stop your benefit just because they are investigating you for fraud. However, they have to make sure that they don’t pay you what they believe you are not entitled to. This means that if they have strong evidence that you are being overpaid then they can reduce or suspend your benefit so as to stop paying you too much while they check it out.
Often the benefit section ‘suspend’ your benefit when they ask the fraud section to get involved. Suspending your benefit is different from stopping it: although you still don’t get any money, it means that the claim is still there so you won’t have to re-claim it when the problem is sorted out, if you are still entitled.
The benefits section should:
- Only suspend the benefits that they think are being paid at the wrong amount, not other benefits you are claiming
- Start paying again as soon as they know what you are really entitled to - even if they think you may have been overpaid or may have committed fraud
- Only wait for the fraud section to finish their investigation if it affects what you are now entitled to, for example if they can’t work out what you should get until you’ve been interviewed
- If they later find that they were wrong they should refund any money they suspended
The fraud section should not suggest that:
- they can influence what benefits you are entitled to get
- they can stop or change your current claim
- withdrawing your claim will help avoid prosecution
If your benefit is suspended while the fraud section investigates it, you may struggle to make ends meet. However, you, or someone you support, for example, your partner, may be able to claim a different benefit or apply for some emergency money. Get independent benefits advice if this happens to you.
If you think the way your benefit has been suspended is wrong, or you want to make a complaint about how long the fraud investigation is taking, or find out what else you can claim, you can get advice from an advice agency. See 'Before the interview'.
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