Consequences of reporting benefit fraud

When you buy or rent a house you have no idea what your neighbours are really like, if you visit during the day it may seem lovely and quiet but visit in the evening or at the weekends and you may find that it’s not quite what you expected. At the moment there is a shortage of council homes in the UK as a result of this you may see homes in the most affluent areas being rented out to people on benefits. As the council covers the cost of rent you may find it hard to imagine a jobless family of five renting a house worth in excess of £500,000. There are many people who have paid their taxes for years are in genuine hardship, this is when the government steps in and helps them pay their way.

But what happens if you suspect someone of being a benefits cheat?

A long time ago there used to be many adverts warning people that the Department of Works and Pensions was keeping tabs on them, there was also a nationwide campaign asking local communities to report anyone they thought was claiming benefits when they were not entitled to. In the last two years due to funding cuts there are no longer adverts urging people to do so.

In a recent case an elderly couple suspected that their neighbour was claiming incapacity benefits when he wasn’t allowed to do so. Their neighbour claimed to be an ex-builder who suffered from health problems that caused so much pain he was unable to work. But when he was spotted climbing ladders with heavy bags of cement his neighbours were horrified. Having worked for years and paid their taxes they were shocked and thought it was their duty to report their neighbour for being a benefits cheat.

As a result of an investigation carried out by DWP the ex-builders benefits were reduced from £850 to £270 a month. When the case went to court the benefit cheat was handed a statement made by the neighbours who reported him so he knew where to seek revenge. It has been four years since he was caught and he has made life hell for his elderly neighbours.

How can DWP be so callous and let the cheat know who reported him, now as a result of this they will lose even more money each year as people will not dare report suspected benefit cheats for fear of being caught out. The DWP say that you can call, email and write to them anonymously to report a suspected fraud, but by making and signing a statement it is the cheats right to know who reported him!