Investigation Uncovers 171 Council Tax Benefit Cheats in East Cambs
PUBLISHED: 11:03 16 April 2010 | UPDATED: 13:21 02 June 2010
AN investigation into Council Tax fraud has uncovered more than 150 people in East Cambridgeshire claiming discounts they were not entitled to. A six-month national campaign was launched last year by the National Fraud Initiative to tackle benefit fraud a
AN investigation into Council Tax fraud has uncovered more than 150 people in East Cambridgeshire claiming discounts they were not entitled to.
A six-month national campaign was launched last year by the National Fraud Initiative to tackle benefit fraud and overpayments.
The Audit Commission was then asked indentify fraudulent and erroneous payments from the public purse. Using new technology, residency data was matched with Council Tax information to identify potential cases where Single Persons Discount was being awarded in error.
In East Cambridgeshire, 171 people were found to be wrongly claiming discounts which amounted to £108,000 in overpayments being recovered.
Linda Grinnell, the council's head of finance, said she was stunned that people still felt they could cheat the benefits system.
"It is staggering to think that in this day and age that people still believe they can cheat the benefits system. There is a vast array of techniques now at the disposal of councils to track down and reclaim benefits and discounts paid in error. In East Cambridgeshire, we are about to target those who are falsely claiming a Single Persons Discount again, so would urge residents to come forward if they have been wrongly claiming discounts rather than ending up in court."
Single Persons Discount can only be claimed by people over the age of 18 who live alone and it reduces Council Tax by 25 per cent.
Initial results in East Cambridgeshire identified a total of 908 matches for investigation by the council where SPD was being paid, but residency details showed there to be more that one person over the age of 18 occupying the property.
* The average Council Tax (Band D) charge in East Cambridgeshire is £146.60 per month.
* The council collects £12 million in Council Tax and Business Rates each year.
* Latest population figures for the district (mid- 2007) show the number of being living here has risen to 81,000.