Fraud investigations

The request was successful.

Richard Gordon

Dear Sir or Madam,

Please would you be able to provide me with a copy of the procedure and guidance followed by the DWP fraud investigators where there is suspected fraud. The guidance I was looking for was in relation to benefit fraud investigations.

The kind of information I was looking for was, for example:

Over what period of time should a fraud investigator observe a couple where the DWP feel that they are living together for benefit purposes?

How frequently should the observations happen etc. etc.

The two questions above really were just a couple of example questions and weren't specific questions for my FOI request, they were two examples of the kind of content I was hoping for in the fraud investigators guidance should it exist.

Yours faithfully,

Richard Gordon

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DWP Adelphi Freedom-of-Information-Request, Department for Work and Pensions

6 Attachments

Dear Mr Gordon

Please see attached response to your FoI request.

Kind regards

Central FoI Team

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J Roberts left an annotation ()

You may be interested in this:

In RS v Secretary of State for Work & Pensions (ESA) [2021] UKUT 112 (AAC) the appellant's interview under caution concerning an alleged overpayment is provided at paragraph 6:

The Judge identifies 'two particularly worrying shortcomings' regarding the interview (para. 7).

He is also critical of the DWP for its 'sub-optimal handling of the matter' (para. 1). He singles out the 'screen prints' provided by the DWP observing:

'They must show something relevant.Otherwise, why supply them to the tribunal?' (1c)


'It is not for the First-tier Tribunal to try and decode the Rosetta Stone of DWP screen prints. The DWP’s obligationto supply all relevant documentary evidence necessarily incorporates an obligation to provide that evidence in an intelligible form.' (1c)

The judge rejected the Secretary of State's request to have the case remitted to the FTT:

'51. ...Upper Tribunal case management directions made it clear to the parties that they should prepare their cases for the final hearing on the basis that the Upper Tribunal might ultimately re-make the First-tier Tribunal’s decisions. The parties have had a fair opportunity to present their cases on the facts. I am also conscious of Mr S’s need for closure of this matter and I accept what he told me at the hearing of the worry and anxiety caused by having this matter ‘hanging over’ him.'

'61. I shall end by pointing out that the Secretary of State has a power, not a duty, to recover the remaining overpayment from Mr S. It is open to Mr S to argue to the DWP that, in the light of the way in which his case was handled, the overpayment should not be recovered or that a reduced amount should be recovered. However, Mr S should note that decisions about whether to recover an overpayment do not attract a right of appeal. The right of appeal concerns the question whether an overpayment is recoverable, and the amount of the recoverable overpayment, and those matters have now been dealt with by this decision.'

J Roberts left an annotation ()

'Shedding light on the DWP Part 1 - We read the UK welfare agency’s 995-page guide on conducting surveillance and here are the scariest bits'

J Roberts left an annotation ()

Some cases I recently came across:

JD -v- Department for Communities (TC) [2017] NICom 21

32. ...

I observe that HMRC policy in the Claimant Compliance Manual at CCM1520 states:

‘DWP used to consider the couple’s sexual relationship as one of the criteria for determining LTAHAW but this is no longer the case. The couple’s sexual relationship is of little help in deciding whether they are living together as husband and wife or living together as civil partners’.

33. However, there is still no statutory definition of “living together”. In this context, there would not appear to be any jurisprudential warrant for excluding the aspect of a sexual relationship as a relevant factor, should relevant information be volunteered.

Another NI decision:

TMcG-v-Department for Communities (ESA) [2018] NICom 19

2. ...

'From this legislative interpretation of the term “couple” it would appear that the only question that needs to be considered when two people are actually married and living under the same roof is whether they are “members of the same household.”  The terms “household” and “members of the same household” are not defined in legislation as postulated by Commissioner Mitchell in the reported decision R(SB)4/83 and must therefore be given their “normal everyday meaning.”  The Commissioner stated at paragraph 19 “…it is undesirable that I should here attempt my own definitions- and I do not do so.  It is a matter of common-sense and common experience.” '

'15. As Mr Commissioner Jacobs (as he then was) noted in CIS/17028/1996 at para 24:
“The question [i.e. of whether two people are living together as husband and wife] is one of fact and degree. This means that there is an element of judgment involved in deciding whether a particular combination of facts involve the parties living as husband and wife. Often it will be possible for different persons to reach different judgments when applying the correct test to the same facts. Commissioners recognise this. They do not embark upon the exercise of deciding what decision they would have reached on the same facts: see the judgment of Lord Widgery, the Chief Justice, in Global Plant Ltd. v. Secretary of State for Health and Social Security [1971] 3 All England Law Reports 385 at page 393.”'

'24. ...

“I have not denied being married to [my husband] but that does not mean we are a couple who share a bed and all financial, material and emotional needs of children. [My husband] left me in 2009 and has not permanently resided with me as a couple. I am the breadwinner and provider for my family (which consists of me and my children). [My husband] is my mother’s nephew therefore all matters connecting between me and [him] are addressed through my parents. In 2009
when [he] left me, a mutual acceptance was agreed through family involvement which was the children are my responsibility and would reside with [me] and [he] would visit children as and when he can.”