The Isle of Wight Council is committed to the prevention and detection of Benefit fraud, and has adopted a positive stance with regards to the necessity to bring offenders before the courts.

If you wish to report a Benefit fraud or contact the Investigation team you can do so by telephoning the following numbers or by email;
  • 24 hour confidential Fraud Hotline 01983 823969
  • Investigation Team (Direct Line) 01983 823910
  • Investigation Team (Fax) 01983 823969

All calls are treated in the strictest confidence.

Benefit Investigation Team

The Council has a team of trained Counter Fraud Officers to examine all allegations of Benefit fraud. Every claimant has a duty to complete their application form accurately, truthfully and report all changes of circumstances promptly. A failure to do so may be a criminal offence and investigations will be carried out in accordance with the statutory requirements on criminal investigation. If there is sufficient evidence to suspect that an offence might have been committed, the claimant may be invited to attend an Interview Under Caution, where the investigator will present the facts and give the claimant an opportunity to comment or explain the circumstances of the alleged offence. The claimant may have a legal representative present during the interview.

At the end of the investigation, if there is evidence of an offence having been committed, a report is prepared in conjunction with the Council’s Prosecution Policy, to determine what further action is required. The Council may decide that it is sufficient just to recover any overpayment of Benefit, or that a legal sanction is appropriate.


Formal Caution

A Local Authority caution is the same as a police caution and is recorded by the Department for Works and Pensions, on a national database.

The Council can only offer a caution when a person has admitted an offence and there is sufficient evidence for criminal proceedings. If a caution is accepted, the person will be required to sign a form agreeing to this and the caution will be administered by an officer of the Council.

If the offer of a caution is refused the case will be referred to the Council’s Solicitor for prosecution.

Administrative Penalty

By virtue of Section 15 of the Social Security Administration (Fraud) Act 1997, Local Authorities can offer a financial penalty instead of prosecution, where there is sufficient evidence to justify criminal proceedings. The penalty is calculated as 30% of the benefit overpayment and is recoverable in the same way as the overpayment.

If a person is offered an Administrative Penalty they will be sent an explanatory notice and asked to attend an interview, where an officer of the Council will explain the details of the penalty and ask if they are willing to accept it. After accepting the penalty the claimant has 28 days in which to change their mind. Should this occur the matter will be dealt with in the same way as a refusal.

If an Administrative Penalty is refused the case will be referred to the Council’s Solicitor for prosecution.


Where an offence is considered to be of a more serious nature or the claimant has previously offended or refused an alternative sanction, the Council will institute criminal proceedings. The Council’s Solicitor will obtain and serve a summons requiring the offender to attend the Magistrates Court.

Loss of Benefit Provision (One/Two Strikes)


1. Since 1999 cautions and administrative penalties have been offered for lower level benefit fraud, with criminal prosecution pursued in more serious cases. Additionally, for repeat offenders, ‘Two Strikes’ (introduced in 2002) is a fixed 13 week loss/reduction of benefit sanction if convicted of benefit fraud in two separate proceedings within a five year period.

2. From 1 April 2010 Section 24 / Schedule 4 of the Welfare Reform Act 2009 and the Social Security (Loss of Benefit) Amendment Regulations 2010 (SI 2010/1160) introduced a new four week loss/reduction of benefit sanction (One Strike). One Strike sanctions apply to benefit fraud offences committed on or after 1 April 2010 that result in a caution, administrative penalty or a first conviction. Two Strikes sanctions continue to apply to cases where someone is convicted of benefit fraud twice within the prescribed linking period.

3. Only standard Housing Benefit (HB) and Council Tax Benefit (CTB) will be
sanctioned. HB/CTB in payment as a result of passporting from Income Support (IS), income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA(IB)), income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA(IR)) or Pension Credit (guarantee credit) will not be sanctioned. Local Housing Allowance is treated in the same way as HB when applying the loss of benefit sanction.

4. Determining that a loss of benefit sanction applies and calculating the period of the sanction, including sanctions against standard HB/CTB, is the responsibility of the DWP Fraud Investigation Service (FIS). The role of applying the loss of benefit sanction to standard HB/CTB is the responsibility of the local authority (LA) HB/CTB benefit processors.

If the claimant is no longer receiving any Social Security benefit or allowances to which this sanction can be applied, a record will be kept for 8 weeks. If benefit awarded within this period, a four week sanction may be applied to those benefits.

Action Taken

By the Benefits Investigation Team 2011/12

During the financial year 2011/12 the Benefits Investigation Team, investigated 554 cases of alleged benefit fraud. As a result of these investigations:
  • 47 people were successfully prosecuted
  • 46 people accepted an Administrative Penalty
  • 75 people accepted a Formal Caution

Page last updated on: 01/08/2012