We have a duty by law to provide a benefits service to residents within the borough who qualify for assistance with their rent and a reduction scheme to those who qualify for assistance with their council tax. Certain people (such as sole occupants) are also entitled to discounts on their council tax which, unlike benefits and the reductions scheme, are not means tested, but must still be claimed.
Housing Fraud is a crime and deprives people in genuine need of a home. If you suspect someone of -
- Subletting their social housing
- Providing false information to obtain a tenancy
- Unlawfully passing social housing to a relative or friends
- No longer living in their social housing
Contact us on 01737 276620 or email Fraud Stoppers.
Benefit fraud relates to Housing Benefit claims with the Council, where someone has provided false information in order to receive benefits that they are not entitled to. It also includes cases where a claimant fails to promptly report a change in their circumstances that affects their entitlement to benefit.
The Council works closely with the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) to investigate allegations of fraud against state benefits (such as Income Support, Employment & Support Allowance or Jobseekers Allowance) as well as other Councils to tackle cross border fraud.
Fraud can be committed by claimants, landlords or third parties. Typical examples of the above fraud include (please note that this list is not exhaustive):
- failing to promptly notify a change in circumstances
- failing to declare employment, earnings or other income
- failing to declare a partner, household member, sub-tenant or other person who moves in
- failing to declare savings, investments or property ownership
- failing to notify a change of tenants or creating fictitious tenants
- failing to declare a change of address or creating false tenancies.
Council tax reduction fraud
Council Tax fraud includes the Council Tax Reduction Scheme that was introduced in April 2013 to replace Council Tax Benefit. As such, fraud against this system is very similar to benefit fraud and can occur in exactly the same way. Often both benefit fraud and reduction fraud are committed simultaneously.
Discount fraud relates to discounts and exemptions that are granted against someone’s liability to pay council tax. For example sole occupants can receive a 25% discount off of their council tax bill. Other discounts are also available, including those for students or for empty properties. Discount fraud occurs where someone provides false information in order to obtain a discount/exemption that they are not entitled to.
Council Tax penalties - failure to notify or supply information
The Council impose a penalty of £70 where a person:
- fails to notify the authority, without reasonable excuse, on any matter which affects entitlement to discount.
- fails to notify that their dwelling is no longer an exempt dwelling.
- fails to notify the Council that they are jointly liable for the tax.
- fails to supply relevant information requested in order to establish liability.
- fails to supply relevant information requested after the issue of a Liability Order has been obtained. Failure to supply this could lead to a criminal prosecution and a fine.
Where a penalty has been imposed under (5) and a further request to supply the same information is made, a further penalty of £280 may be imposed for each subsequent failure, provided:
- it is in the debtor's possession.
- the authority requests him to supply it.
- it falls within a prescribed description of information.
Appeals against the imposition of penalties are to the Valuation Tribunal. Penalties are recovered in the Magistrates court.
For further information on fraud and corruption, including how we are tackling fraud, information on interviews under caution, and details of the types of penalties and sanctions we can impose, please see our main Fraud and Corruption page.