'10 years jail' for benefit cheats

Benefit cheats will face increased jail terms of up to 10 years in a crackdown on those who "flout the system", Britain's most senior prosecutor Keir Starmer has said.

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New guidelines on prosecuting benefit cheats

The new guidelines set out the factors that prosecutors should take into account when advising the court on allocation – whether to send cases to the Crown Court – and also act as the aggravating factors that prosecutors will draw to the sentencing court’s attention.

  • whether the fraud was professionally planned
  • whether the fraud was carried out over a significant period of time
  • whether multiple frauds occurred (multiple frauds include where one false declaration or a failure to disclose a change of circumstances results in multiple payments)
  • use of a false or stolen identity
  • relevant previous convictions / cautions/previous out of court disposals for benefit fraud
  • an attempt to conceal or dispose of evidence
  • abuse of a position of trust
  • substantial consequential loss to public funds

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CPS: Benefit cheats now prosecuted under Fraud Act

Benefit fraud suspects can now be charged under the Fraud Act, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, the Crown Prosecution Service said.

In the past, benefit cheats have often been pursued under specific social security legislation which carries a maximum term of seven years.

A financial threshold which prevented benefit fraud cases of less than £20,000 from being sent to crown court will also be abolished, the CPS said.

Benefit cheats to face increased jail terms

Keir Starmer QC wants lawyers to consider the cost to the taxpayer of benefits fraud. Credit: PA

Benefit cheats will face increased jail terms of up to 10 years in a crackdown on those who "flout the system", Britain's most senior prosecutor has said.

Keir Starmer QC warned it was time for a "tough stance" against the perpetrators of benefit and tax credit fraud as he set out new guidelines for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

The Director of Public Prosecutions said the £1.9 billion annual cost of the crime to the taxpayer should be at the "forefront of lawyers' minds" when considering whether a prosecution was in the public interest.

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