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How to handle an interview under caution

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Steve´s story

So, you’ve been asked to an interview under caution: what now?

What is an interview under caution?

What about my benefits?

Before the interview

What will the interview be like?

After the interview under caution

Jen´s story

Step-by-step guide: after an interview under caution

Interview under caution: summary

Useful contacts

Jargon buster

Jargon What it means for interview under caution
Advice centre

Most towns have advice centres such as Citizens Advice Bureaux, (CAB) or independent advice centres (often these are in community centres). Unlike some other professional help, help from an advice centre should always be free. If you go for advice, take this guide with you as it will help them to know what you need them to do. They will only go with you to an interview if they have experienced staff available but can help you to prepare before, and sort out what to do afterwards.


Someone appointed by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to claim and manage benefits or pension on behalf of someone who can’t do it for themselves.


The caution at the start of an interview explains your rights during that interview. It is different from a police caution or a formal caution.


A section of your local council, or local authority (LA), pays benefits such as Council Tax Benefit and Housing Benefit.


If the DWP/council decides to prosecute you, your case will go to court. Less serious cases go to the magistrates' court, but more serious ones to the crown court where the judge can sentence you to a stronger punishment if they decide you are guilty.

DWP (Department of Work and Pensions)

The DWP, including Job Centre Plus, used to be called the Benefits Agency (BA) or the DSS (Department of Social Security). They pay most benefits, but don’t pay Housing and Council Tax benefits, tax credits or Child Benefit.

Formal caution

If the DWP believe they have enough evidence to prosecute you they may offer you this instead. If you accept it means you are signing to say you agree that you are guilty of that offence, but it doesn’t give you a criminal record.


Benefit fraud is if you say something that’s not true, (or don’t tell something you should have), deliberately so as to gain (or to keep) benefits, for yourself or someone else.

Penalty or administrative penalty

If the DWP or the council believe they have enough evidence to prosecute you they may offer you the choice of paying a penalty (30% of the overpayment), on top of re-paying any overpayment, instead of prosecution. It does not mean you have a criminal record.


An official body (for example, the DWP or council) can prosecute you (take you to court) if they think you have committed a crime. If you are found guilty you will have a criminal record, but the prosecution, or threat of it, isn’t recorded.

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