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How to handle an interview under caution

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Introduction

Steve's story

Steve had only been going out with Chloe for about six months when her landlord gave her notice to leave her flat. Things had been going well between them so they decided that she would move in with Steve to see if it worked out. A couple of months later they decided to make it permanent. They told the landlord that Chloe wanted to be an official tenant too. The landlord said it was fine but that he’d need to tell the Housing Benefit office about it.

A few weeks later Steve got a letter from the council asking him to go to an ‘interview under caution’ because of a problem with his benefits. ‘I didn’t really know what it was about,’ says Steve, ‘Although it did occur to me that it might be something to do with Chloe moving in – she earns a good wage. But I thought that if I owed anything I could just pay it back.’

When Steve rang the council to sort things out he was told he needed to speak to the ‘fraud section’. The fraud section thinks Steve may have deliberately not told them about Chloe moving in, to get more benefit and want to record the interview in case they have to take him to court.

'I was a bit shook up when I got off the phone,' Steve explains, 'Ok, I know now that I should’ve told the council about Chloe, but at the time I didn’t really think it would make any difference - she wasn’t even on the tenancy and I only got a few quid Housing Benefit anyway. Now it's all so serious! ‘Under caution’ sounds criminal, and they’ve even mentioned court!’'

If like Steve, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) or your local council suspect you may have misled them about something to do with your benefits you might be asked to go to an 'interview under caution'. This could lead to them suspending your benefits and taking you to court.

If you are unsure about any of the terms in this guide see the jargon buster

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

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