Benefit Fraud

Common law, Fraud Act 2006, s.1, Social Security Administration Act 1992, s.111A, Social Security Administration Act 1992, s.112, Tax Credits Act 2002, s.35, Theft Act 1968, s.17
Effective from: 1 October 2014

Dishonest representations for obtaining benefit etc Social Security Administration Act 1992 (section 111A)

Tax Credit fraud Tax Credits Act 2002 (section 35)

False accounting Theft Act 1968 (section 17)

Triable either way

Maximum: 7 years’ custody

Offence range: Discharge – 6 years 6 months’ custody


False representations for obtaining benefit etc Social Security Administration Act 1992 (section 112)

Triable summarily only

Maximum: Level 5 fine and/or 3 months’ custody

Offence range: Discharge – 12 weeks’ custody


Fraud by false representation, fraud by failing to disclose information, fraud by abuse of position Fraud Act 2006 (section 1)

Triable either way

Conspiracy to defraud Common law

Triable on indictment only

Maximum: 10 years’ custody

Offence range: Discharge – 8 years’ custody

User guide for this offence


Step 1- Determining the offence category

The court should determine the offence category with reference to the tables below. In order to determine the category the court should assess culpability and harm. The level of culpability is determined by weighing up all the factors of the case to determine the offender’s role and the extent to which the offending was planned and the sophistication with which it was carried out.

Culpability demonstrated by one or more of the following:

A – High culpability

  • A leading role where offending is part of a group activity
  • Involvement of others through pressure/influence
  • Abuse of position of power or trust or responsibility
  • Sophisticated nature of offence/significant planning

B – Medium culpability

  • Other cases where characteristics for categories A or C are not present
  • Claim not fraudulent from the outset
  • A significant role where offending is part of a group activity

C – Lesser culpability

  • Involved through coercion, intimidation or exploitation
  • Performed limited function under direction

Where there are characteristics present which fall under different levels of culpability, the court should balance these characteristics to reach a fair assessment of the offender’s culpability.

Harm – Amount obtained or intended to be obtained
Category 1 £500,000 – £2 million Starting point based on £1 million
Category 2 £100,000 – £500,000 Starting point based on £300,000
Category 3 £50,000 – £100,000 Starting point based on £75,000
Category 4 £10,000 – £50,000 Starting point based on £30,000
Category 5 £2,500 – £10,000 Starting point based on £5,000
Category 6 Less than £2,500 Starting point based on £1,000