What is Benefit Fraud?
SLDC is responsible for the
administration and provision of Housing and Council Tax Benefit
throughout the District. These benefits are means
tested. This means that they are calculated using information
provided by a person about their income, savings and
investments. Persons in receipt of certain state benefits
such as Income Support are also automatically entitled to Housing
and Council Tax Benefit.
Benefit fraud occurs where a person knowingly or dishonestly
provides information that they know to be false when they claim
benefits, or when a person knowingly or dishonestly fails to notify
changes in their circumstances that will affect entitlement to
benefits they are receiving. In other words when a person
attempts to claim and/or receiving benefits they know they are not
How am I affected by benefit fraud and why should I take an
To put it simply, Benefit Fraud is a crime that affects us
all. Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit are
benefits that are funded by a combination of Government Grants and
Council Tax, so they are funded by taxes we all
pay. Recent estimates of losses to the public
purse for benefit fraud, which includes Housing and Council Tax
Benefit and Department of Work and Pensions benefits such
Jobseekers Allowance and Income Support are in the region of £2
Billion per year. That's £80 for every family in the
Why does SLDC investigate benefit fraud
The Council has the duty by law to administer a benefits
service to those within its area who qualify. We also have a
responsibility to ensure that payments are made only to those who
are actually entitled to receive them.
For that reason, we have our own Fraud and Verification Team
whose duties include:
- Ensuring benefits are paid correctly
- Detecting fraudulent claims
- Stopping and reducing payment in fraudulent cases
- Taking action against offenders
What Types of Fraud are there?
This list is not exhaustive, but does give a guide to the
types of fraud that occur.
Types of Benefit Fraud
|Working and Claiming
Working and claiming fraud usually involves claimants who are
in receipt of Housing Benefit / Council Tax Benefit on the basis of
entitlement to Job Seekers Allowance / Income Support, but who are
in fact working.
Any cases that arise in these circumstances will usually
involve a joint investigation involving the Council and the
Department for Work and Pensions.
|Non-disclosure of property /
This fraud is where a claimant fails to declare either savings /
capital or the ownership of another property / land elsewhere.
|Non-disclosure of income
This is where the claimant fails to declare all of their income,
knowing or intending that non-declaration will increase their
benefit award. (e.g. a private pension).
Non-disclosure of partner (living together as husband
|This involves a claimant failing to declare the presence of a
partner who is working, knowing or intending that this would affect
|Non-declaration of non-dependants and/or
It is fraudulent if a claimant fails to declare the presence of
other adults living in the property, in order to preserve or
increase entitlement to benefit.
|False claims by homeowners
This is where the owner of a property falsely states that he or
she is paying rent to occupy what is in fact, his or her own
|Failing to declare change of
Where a claimant fails to declare that he / she has moved, but
continues to accept payments of Housing Benefit for their previous
address, they are committing a fraud.
|False address fraud
This fraud may occur where a person is claiming for an address
at which he or she is not in fact living. This type of offence may
occur with the collusion of the landlord or other tenants.
This is where a landlord continues to receive benefit paid
directly to him / her for a period after which he / she is aware
the claimant vacated the premises. Where the landlord has access to
more than one property, there is the potential to move tenants
around without informing the Local Authority.
There are many ways other ways in which landlords and managing
agents can defraud the benefit system, particularly in areas where
there is a large proportion of multiple occupation houses and there
are many seasonal workers looking for short-term lets.
Who commits benefit fraud
Benefit fraud can be committed by anyone from an opportunist
fraudster who doesn't notify a change of job to highly organised
gangs systematically ripping off the benefits system. There
are no stereotypes when it comes to claiming benefit
What happens to fraudsters who get caught
The Council has a Sanction Policy which is referred to when
and if it can be proved that someone has been claiming
fraudulently. There are a number of sanctions available
including prosecution in the more serious cases.
Any person who makes a false
statement or produces a false document in order to obtain benefit
is committing a criminal offence that is punishable by up to 10
years in prison. Any person who fails to notify a change in
circumstances in order to continue to receive benefit is committing
a criminal offence that is punishable by up to 7 years in
During 2009 – 2010 SLDC fraud investigators identified over 80
cases where claims had been made fraudulently and of these 7
fraudsters were successfully prosecuted, 20 fraudsters
accepted Formal Cautions and 14 fraudsters accepted an Adpen as an
alternative to prosecution.
- a number of cases where customers failed to declare
either receipt of, or changes to Tax Credits
- a lady who didn’t report rental income she received from
a property she owned in Cheshire, or the fact that she owned the
property at all
- 40 cases where either new jobs or changes in wages hadn’t
- a number of cases where single claimants had failed to
report they had a partner living with them, including a lady who
failed to report that she had married
- a number of cases where capital wasn’t reported
correctly, including a lady who failed to report that she owned
property in the north of England and Spain and who also failed to
report that she was working.
How to report Benefit Fraud
Call the confidential 24 hour Fraud Hotline on 0800
Find out more about how to report Benefit