Housing Benefit Fraud success
Our client was suspected of Housing Benefit Fraud. The DWP believed that she had been living with a partner and their two children for the best part of her 23 year claim. they said she had not declared this and so had over claimed for the whole of that time.
Our client instructed fraud expert, Keith Hollywood of this firm. privately who attended the interview under caution.
We obtained disclosure form the investigating officers who had evidence showing that she and her partner shared the same address for bank accounts, loans, employer records, credit cards and cars registrations. It was clearly a case for damage limitation.
We managed to reduce the period of investigation and overpayment to a 6-year period between 2009 and 2015. This limitted limit the sum obtained to £23,000. This was because we submitted that the DWP would have serious evidential difficulties in respect of missing documentation as paper records are not routinely kept beyond 6 years. This sum is still well over the recommended minimum for prosecution in the guidelines and had a charge been brought may very well have been sent to the Crown Court for trial.
We drafted representations that our client should not be prosecuted but rather face an administrative penalty which is an alternative to prosecution. This means that there is no criminal conviction and, as there is no court case, no danger of going to prison. These submissions were successful and an administrative penalty was negotiated at 30%. This is the largest sum in which we have negotiated an administrative penalty as an alternative to prosecution.
Note: The evidential difficulties faced by the DWP in proving the claim back to 1992 were key to success. We had to point out the lack of computer records from that time, the absence of the actual Housing Benefit Claim forms and the difficulties they would face in proving payment. This was the first step to avoiding prosecution as the had the DWP been able to prove the earlier claim between 1992 and 2009, a total of 17 years, the sums involved would have been 4 times as much and prosecution inevitable. The client’s decision to instruct us privately so that we could challenge the DWP was well worth the cost.