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Alice H
Alice H, Solicitor/Partner
Category: Law
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Experience:  Partner in national law firm
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I have a question Re Benefit fraud (claiming carers allowance

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I have a question Re Benefit fraud (claiming carers allowance whilst in part time employment and exceeding the upper earning limit)
My name isXXXXX and I'm happy to help with your question today.

What would you like to know exactly?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

i have had an interview under caution with DWP re benefit fraud and it was established there was an over payment of 5900 pounds over a three year period.


i am currently paying it back 200 per month


i started working part time but failed to inform DWP of my earnings which exceeded the 100 per week upper limit


they are currently deciding on whether to prosecute or not.


i initially told them that i didn't t think i did anything wrong, but i accept that I am obliged to pay back the overpayment. The DWP told me that this wasn't an acceptance of the charge against me, so may proceed to court.


My question is, if i put forward a guilty plea now, will it avoid proceeding to court action?


I am a teacher, and provide for my family and disabled wife.


Can you help?



Good afternoon Craig.

You cannot enter a 'guilty plea' unless you are prosecuted.

I imagine you want to know whether, if you admit guilt, there are alternatives to a prosecution.

The DWP have the following options where there is alleged benefit fraud:

1. Adminster a caution. This is a formal warning and requires an admission of guilt from you.

2. Administrative Penalty. This is where you repay the overpayment with a penalty of 30%.

However, for a caution and adminsitrative penalty the overpayment usually has to be much lower than £5K. The caution is for exceptional cases where the overpayment is usually less than £1K. The AP is usually for cases where the overpayment is less than £2K.

You could admit the offence in the hope the DWP will either caution or give you an AP - but in my experience the chances of non-court action is very low indeed. Cases involving £5K or more are normally prosecuted.

If the matter went to court and you pleaded guilty I would expect the court to impose, in the worst casescenario, a community penalty e.g. unpaid work/curfew/supervsion.

Sadly a conviction at court forms part of a persons criminal record. This means that convictions which result in fines or community orders are discloseable for 5 years under the 'standard disclosure' rules.

Hope this helps. Happy to discuss further.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

My wife filled in the benefit claim forms, and sent them off

-i have not disclosed this to the DWP as she has mental health problems. and i felt i needed to protect her from any undue stress. Neither of us were aware of the upper earning limit.


Should I disclose them to DWP, and would it stop them pursuing me?



I'm not sure what difference it would make to disclosing that your wife completed the form.

The duty is on the claimant to disclose a change in circumstances. Starting a job even part time is a changr.

Also the DWP give leaflets about the maximum number of hours and income a person can earn before benefits are affected.

Lack of knowledge about the upper limit helps you because you could say you were not acting dishonestly and non-disclosure was a result of a misunderstanding.

However, even though dishonesty is ruled out you still have a problem with the failure to notify a change in circumstances which would have affected your entitlement to benefit.

Alice H and other Law Specialists are ready to help you