Sunderland City Council is committed to paying benefit to people who are entitled to it. Unfortunately, some people take advantage of the benefits system by claiming benefit they are not entitled to.
If you suspect someone of benefit fraud, let us know anonymously by:
- Using the 'Do it online' area of this page
- Contacting us
If you prefer, you can ring the National Benefit Fraud Hotline on 0800 854 440
(Textphone users call 0800 328 0512) or report this on the DWP's Report a benefit thief online form
Frequently asked questions
What is benefit fraud?
Benefit fraud is when people claim benefit they are not entitled to, including Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit. They may do this by giving us false information or not telling us when their circumstances have changed. Some examples of benefit fraud are:
- Giving false addresses
- Giving details of false or invented tenancies (hoping to claim Housing Benefit)
- Subletting part of a property for which the council is already paying benefit
- Not declaring paid work
- Not declaring other people living in the household
- Not declaring income or savings
- Not declaring ownership of other properties or land.
How are we tackling benefit fraud?
We are committed to protecting public funds and will take action against anyone committing benefit fraud. We have a dedicated team of benefit fraud investigators who have the power to investigate people suspected of benefit fraud. The team can interview suspects under caution in the same way as the police. The investigators work closely with the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), the police and other local councils, so they have access to all kinds of personal information about people, such as household bills and bank statements. They can identify fraud by:
- Following up reports from the public
- Identifying mismatches in the information people provide when making their claim, and
- Cross-checking personal data held on different computer systems.
What are the consequences for benefit thieves?
Benefit fraud is a criminal offence. We will prosecute and recover any overpaid benefit from anyone who commits it. If someone is found guilty they could face:
- Having to repay more money than was overpaid because of fines or court costs
- A criminal record
- A fine
- Having their home and possessions taken away
- A prison sentence.
We may publish recent case studies of prosecutions, penalties and cautions on our website.
Why do we need your help?
The information you give us is the best tool we have for detecting fraud and prosecuting wrongdoers. If you know about someone who may be committing benefit fraud, we would encourage you to report them.
We can only investigate someone if we have good reason to suspect they are committing benefit fraud. So the more information you give us, the better. The kind of information that will help us is:
- Name(s) and age(s) of the people in the household
- Current address
- Description of the suspect
- Description of the suspect's vehicle, including registration number
- The name and address of the suspect's employer
- The time the suspect leaves for work and arrives home
- How long the suspect has worked for their current employer
If I report fraud, will I remain anonymous?
We treat all the information we receive in the strictest confidence and you don't have to give us your personal details if you don't want to. Also, under the Data Protection Act, we cannot give the public any reports on the progress of an investigation.