Stirling clamps down on benefit cheats
Stirling Council continues to clamp down on people who try to cheat on their Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit claims.
Since April 2010 the Council’s Benefit Fraud Team has uncovered more than £228,000 in fraudulently claimed Housing and Council Tax Benefit. Thirteen cases were reported to the Procurator Fiscal totalling £43,798 in Housing and Council Tax Benefits and over £69,000 in Department for Work and Pensions Benefits (DWP). With punishments of prison sentences, community orders, fines, probation and the seizing of property and goods the consequences of cheating the system are severe and long lasting.
The Council recently investigated a 71-year-old man who claimed £35,000 of benefits he wasn’t entitled to. The former soldier failed to declare his army pension while claiming benefits. The pensioner avoided jail but has been ordered to carry out 300 hours of Community Service in addition to repaying the overpaid benefits.
Five Administrative Penalties were accepted in relation to £27,868 of overpaid Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit. The value of the penalties totalled £8,358 and 98% of the combined amount (£36,226) has been recovered. And 52 Cautions were also issued in the period from April 2010 in respect of £41,217 of overpaid Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit.
The Council works closely with the DWP in the fight against fraud and regularly compares the information they hold in order to catch cheats.
Under the national fraud initiative, councils and other public bodies can compare the information they hold on claimants and can pass details of suspect claims for investigation.
During the course of these joint investigations with the DWP
a further £232,388 of fraudulently claimed National DWP Benefits were also detected, giving a total loss of public money of £460,409.
According to Department for Work and Pension figures Benefit thieves stole an estimated £1.2 billion from public funds in 2010-2011.
Council advice is that anyone claiming Benefits should always give correct and complete information and notify the Council of any changes in their circumstances as soon as possible. Failing to do either or both of these constitute offences under the Social Security Administration Act 1992.
To report suspected Housing Benefit and/or Council Tax Benefit fraud to Stirling Council on the 24-hour Fraud Hotline, phone 01786 443088 or email: email@example.com or visit: www.fraudcentral.org.uk The information you give will be treated in the strictest confidence and you do not have to give your name. There is also a confidential National Fraud Helpline on 0800 854 440 to report benefit fraud out with the Stirling Council area.