Council cracks down on benefit fraud

Social security fraud, including bogus claims for housing benefit and council tax benefit, costs the country billions of pounds each year.

South Gloucestershire is no different. The council is committed to identifying, investigating and preventing benefit fraud and has a zero tolerance approach to fraudulent claims. There are tight measures in force to crack down on housing and council tax benefit fraud.

Last year the council successfully took 96 fraudsters to court – a 30% increase on the previous year. All the claimants were found guilty of fraud, with 37 being prosecuted, 50 receiving cautions and another nine were fined.

During the year, South Gloucestershire Council’s fraud team identified benefit overpayments totalling some £418,000, of which £264,000 related to housing and council tax benefits paid to people who were not entitled to receive them.

Cllr Allan Higgs, executive member for corporate affairs, said: “The council takes all allegations of fraud very seriously and I would urge residents to inform us if they have worries that someone isn’t entitled in the confidence that we will investigate.

“With public funds being so limited it is essential that money goes to those who are entitled to help and we stop those who are committing fraud.”

Locally, any loss suffered by the council as a result of fraud has a direct effect on the level of tax paid by the residents of South Gloucestershire.

The fraud team investigates all allegations of benefit fraud in the district and will take action where appropriate. Although the team carries out most of the prosecutions themselves, in some instances they work closely with other agencies including the police and the Department of Work and Pensions to bring about joint prosecutions.

Despite the team’s success in detecting and prosecuting benefit cheats, benefit fraud continues to be a problem in the area and the team needs the help of local residents to help ensure that benefits are paid to the needy not the greedy.

If you think someone is committing benefit fraud it is important to let the council’s fraud team know.

Suspected benefit fraud can be reported online through the Report It page of the Council website or via the Benefit Fraud hotline on 08000 737377.

All information received will be treated in confidence and you do not have to give your details.

Source: South Gloucestershire Council

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