If a person is prosecuted for benefit fraud and found guilty by a court they will be subject to criminal sentencing. Parliament sets the maximum (and sometimes minimum) penalty for any offence. When deciding the appropriate sentence, the court must follow any relevant sentencing guidelines, unless it is not in the interests of justice to do so.
Sentencing for benefit fraud depends on the type of benefit fraud and the seriousness of the offence:
- for a serious incidence of conspiracy to defraud, the maximum sentence is 10 years’ custody
- for a less serious offence, for example making false representation to obtain benefits, penalties can range from discharge to a lower-level fine
Find out more about the different types of sentence.