Action the Council can take
Where the Council believes there is no evidence that you have committed a criminal offence you will be notified in writing. This does not affect the Council's right to collect any overpayment.
If the Council believes there is sufficient evidence to show that you have committed a criminal offence we will consider your case in accordance with the prosecution policy.
If the Council considers the case serious enough to instigate legal proceedings you will receive a summons to attend court and will need to obtain legal representation before you attend court. Cases will initially be heard in the Magistrates Court, however depending on the nature of charge or the circumstances of your case, it may be considered so serious it has to be heard in Crown Court. Proceedings in court taken by the Council are usually under Sections 111A or 112A of the Social Security Administration Act 1992 (Amended 1997), however other charges may be used where appropriate.
As an alternative to prosecution the Council can offer the following sanctions:
- Formal caution - this means that the Council considers it has grounds to prosecute, but has decided to offer the opportunity to accept a formal caution. The Council can only offer this if an offence has been admitted at the interview. If you accept a formal caution, the Council will not pursue the case to court. The formal caution is recorded with the Council and the Department for Work and Pensions and should the person commit another offence within 2 years this would be considered in any further recommendation or proceedings.
- Administrative penalty - this means that the Council considers it has grounds to prosecute, but has decided to offer the opportunity to accept an administrative penalty in respect of the offence. This is a penalty of 30% of the overpayment that has to be repaid in addition to the benefit that has been overpaid. The administrative penalty is recorded with the Council and the Department for Work and Pensions and should the person commit another offence in the future this would be considered in any further recommendation or proceedings.