LEGAL EAGLE: I've been asked to attend an interview about possible benefit fraud
This is a complicated area and you should consider consulting a solicitor to receive appropriate advice. There are a number of different offences associated with claims for benefits and depending on what benefits you were claiming at the time the council might also investigate you as they administer housing benefit. The most likely offences will be contrary to S.112 or S111A of the Social Security Administration Act 1992. The DWP may believe you and your boyfriend are living together whilst you are claiming as a single person. It is likely they will have already conducted some preliminary investigations and may have made inquiries of each of your bank accounts and his employers.
If you are living together as if you were married or in a civil partnership but claiming as a single person then it is likely that you are guilty of an offence.
The investigators will look at the number of times your boyfriend spent the night, any financial contribution he makes, and even whether he has any post delivered to your address.
DWP investigators do not have the power of arrest and it is a matter for you whether to attend the interview. However, if you do not attend then DWP can take a number of actions including stopping your benefits and they might also refer the matter to the police who could arrest you (although this is rare).
If you attend any interview, you will receive the same caution that you would receive if you were being interviewed by the police and as with police interviews you are entitled to remain silent. However, it may harm your defence if you fail to mention, when questioned, something that you later rely on in court.
How you deal with any interview can have a major impact on how the case proceeds.
You have a right to legal representation at this interview and you should strongly consider exercising this.
For further information please contact Ben Hoare Bell LLP on 0191 565 3112 or email [email protected] or visit www.benhoarebell.co.uk.