It has been announced this week that unemployment rates hit a 17 year high in the three months to December, standing at 8.4% which is 2.67m. It was also revealed that 860,000 people have been out of work for over a year. As unemployment figures showed an increase, so did the number of people claiming out-of-work benefits, which rose by 6,900 to 1.6m in the January. The welfare system is renowned for being a huge government expense and the latest statistics could spell a further clamp down on benefit fraud and entitlement as the government tries to cut costs.
Since the start of the economic downturn, the government have tried to minimise the amount of money spent on welfare. Back in 2010 health checks on disability claimants were announced to take place in a bid to get those who were well enough to work back into the employment market. Since then, numerous benefits cheats have been exposed. With news stories of fraudulent claimants who have received thousands of pounds in benefits that they weren’t entitled to making headlines on a regular basis.
There has been another side to the story too though, as many people with minor disabilities fear they may have to return to work if the medical examination doesn’t reveal the full extent of their illness. Britain has effectively been split in half, from those who strongly agree with the welfare reform concept to those who are worried they may have their benefits stopped and live in poverty. But with different headlines and stories regarding unemployment and benefits procedures it can be incredibly confusing for claimants to know what they’re entitled to. Some people are claiming money fraudulently whilst others are claiming a lower amount than they’re entitled to.
Am I entitled to a higher benefit?
If you’re struggling financially and believe you may be entitled to a higher benefit than you’re currently claiming you should contact the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) and explain your circumstances. Benefits aren’t merely for those who are out of work, there are a range of government funded financial aids available to help others who may struggle financially.
Am I claiming too much?
If you’re claiming a higher amount of benefit than you’re entitled to then you could be stung for benefit fraud. Penalties can range from temporary benefit withdrawal to prison sentences. You need to bear in mind that it’s not just your local authority who may initiate an investigation, a whistle-blower’s hotline is in place so anyone who suspects you may be claiming benefits fraudulently can report you. This would lead to an investigation and, if you’re found to have provided false information to the DWP, you will be charged with benefit fraud. In such cases it’s highly advisable to seek legal advice from a criminal defence solicitor.
Here at Gray and Co Solicitors we have expertise in the area of benefit fraud and can help you to develop a case. We understand the ambiguity that currently surrounds benefit entitlement and our friendly team never judge. If you’ve been charged with benefit fraud then contact us today for free legal advice and support.