PIP: Do benefit investigators watch your house when you receive PIP?

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BENEFITS fraud is a criminal offence. In the last year the Government overpaid £4.6 billion on benefits, and most of this is a consequence of fraud. How does the Government find out if you are committing benefit fraud?

Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is a benefit for those with disabilities or long-term ill health. If your health improves and you are no longer entitled to the benefits, you are committing benefits fraud. Between 2018 and 2019, £330 million was overpaid by the Government to PIP claimants. While most of this overpayment is down to claimant error and official error, there have been incidents of PIP fraud. Universal Credit is a more likely target for fraudsters.

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Do investigators watch your house when you receive PIP?

If you claim benefits that you’re not entitled to on purpose, you’re committing benefit fraud.

To claim PIP, you must be aged 16 or over but less than State Pension age, and you must also have a specific health condition or disability.

This condition or disability must prevent you from going about your daily life as normal or stop you from getting around– for at least three months.

If you provided false information and lied in order to get PIP, this is benefit fraud.

If you rightfully claim PIP but something changes that means you are no longer entitled to the benefit, you must contact the PIP enquiry line.

Changes of circumstances include:

  • your personal details change, for example your name, address or doctor
  • the help you need or your condition changes
  • your condition has worsened and you’re not expected to live more than 6 months
  • you go into hospital or a care home
  • you go abroad
  • you’re imprisoned or held in detention

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If you do not report a change in your circumstances, this might be benefit fraud.

You could be taken to court or you may have to pay a penalty if you don’t report these changes, or if you give false information.

The Department for Work and Pensions, local authorities, and HM Revenue and Customers will investigate you if they suspect fraud.

The authorities even have the right to enter your place of work as part of an investigation.

Do benefit investigators watch your house?

According to Stuart Miller Solicitors, benefits investigators might watch your house.

They are allowed to wait outside your home in a car and watch to see who is entering and exiting the property.

For example, you might be claiming PIP due to a disability that causes physical impairment and means you are unable to work.

The investigators could wait outside your home if they suspect you are actually able-bodied.

If they say you walking with ease and attending work on a regular basis, that is evidence against you.

The investigator may visit you as much as they like or see fit.

As part of the investigation, you may be ‘interviewed under caution’.

They are called this because you are under a police caution throughout the interview.

During the interview, you’ll need to talk about why you claim the benefits in question and justify why you need them.

After a series of personal questions are asked, the investigators will make a decision.

You could be prosecuted, given a formal caution, or even let off.

You must be prosecuted within three months of the date from which there was sufficient evidence to prosecute or twelve months from the date of your offence, whichever is later.

If you are prosecuted and then convicted in court, you may be fined or sent to prison.

The maximum penalty if you are convicted for false representation is a £5,000 fine, three months imprisonment or both.

The maximum penalty if convicted for dishonest representation is a £5,000 fine, six months imprisonment (12 months in Scotland) or both.

If you are convicted in a higher court with more sentencing power, you can receive an unlimited fine or seven years in prison or both.

Sometimes people are offered a civil penalty as an alternative to prosecution, or the proceedings may be dropped.

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