‘Hotline’ snares benefit cheatsBy Becky Barnes
May 16, 2012
Whistle-blowing neighbours have helped benefit fraud investigators identify nearly double the amount of dishonestly claimed housing and council tax benefit.
Bracknell Forest Council uncovered 89 cases of benefit fraud between April 2011 and April 2012, amounting to £341,019. This was £151,000 more than the previous year.
In the 2010 to 2011 period there were 59 benefit fraud sanctions worth £190,000.
Out of the 89 cases in the past year, the most common fraud was people who failed to declare they were working while claiming benefit. This accounted for 28 cases.
A 48-year-old man received a 12- month community order and was ordered to carry out 80 hours of unpaid work after he was overpaid £2,116 after failing to tell the council he was working.
A 38-year-old man was fined £500 when he failed to notify the council he had moved out of his property and received £2,550 overpaid benefit.
In a joint case with the department of works and pensions, a 38-year-old woman who failed to declare correct maintenance from her ex-husband and was overpaid £8,075 was given a total of 220 hours of unpaid work.
Simon Hendey, chief officer: housing at the council, said: “In the last financial year, the council successfully prosecuted a higher number of fraud cases than previously.
“This was due to more referrals of potentially fraudulent activity received.
“The council takes benefit fraud very seriously and continues to work with the community to tackle this issue.
“Residents should be under no illusion that if they are claiming housing or council tax benefit fraudulently we will find out about it and we will take action.”
The council has a benefit fraud cheat chasers’ phone line for people to leave information about households they believe are fraudulently claiming housing and council tax benefit. This can be contacted on 0800 590 437.