Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction Fraud
Last Updated: 31 July 2023
Benefit fraud happens when:
- somebody gives information they know is false when they claim
- they knowingly or dishonestly fail to tell us about changes in circumstances that will affect their claim
Investigating benefit fraud
Our investigation team investigate suspected fraud against Council Tax Reduction. Any allegations related to Housing Benefit fraud must be reported directly to the Department of Works and Pensions (DWP)
Any cases that involve a benefit looked after by another government department will usually involve a joint investigation between us and the DWP.
|Working and claiming||Working and claiming fraud usually involves customers who are in receipt of Housing Benefit / Council Tax Reduction. Working and not declared all or part of the wages or other jobs.|
|Non disclosure of property /capital||A claimant fails to declare either savings / capital or the ownership of another property / land elsewhere.|
|Non disclosure of income||The claimant fails to declare all of their income, knowing or intending that non-declaration will increase their benefit award (for example, a private pension)|
|Non disclosure of partner (living together as husband and wife)||A claimant fails to declare the presence of a partner who is working, knowing or intending that this would affect their entitlement.|
|Non declaration of non dependants and/or sub tenants||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||The owner of a property falsely states that he or she is paying rent to occupy what is in fact, his or her own property.|
|Failing to declare change of address||A claimant fails to declare that they have moved, but continues to accept payments of housing benefit for their previous address.|
|False address fraud||A person claims for an address at which they are not in fact living. This type of offence may occur with the collusion of the landlord or other tenants.|
A landlord continues to receive benefit paid directly to them for a period after which they are 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 us.
There are many 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.
When fraudsters are caught
We may consider an immediate prosecution or an alternative penalty for any offence which breaks the law.
Alternative penalties can include:
- cautions (a written warning issued by us)
- administrative penalties (a financial penalty amounting to 30 or 50 per cent of the money fraudulently obtained)
- penalty as an alternative to prosecution (council tax support only)
If any of these are refused the offence would be considered for legal proceedings.
People caught cheating can be fined up to £2500 per offence and sentenced to a maximum prison term of three-months in the magistrates court.
Any fraud committed in relation to Housing Benefit may carry different sanctions. GOV.UK: Benefit fraud provides further information.
To report benefit fraud call the confidential 24 hour Fraud Hotline on 01539 793 294.
Report benefit fraud
Help us to help you. If you suspect that someone on benefits:
- is working
- has not told us about other people living in the house
- receives other income
- has not declared capital or savings
You can report suspected benefit fraud by:
- filling in the National Benefit Fraud Hotline online form
- calling 0800 854 440 (lines open Monday to Friday 8am to 6pm)
- posting the form to: NBFH, Mail Handling Site A, Wolverhampton, WV98 2BP
Sentences administered by courts can include imprisonment, fines and community penalties. Other action taken included the offer of formal cautions and financial penalties.
We are committed to ensuring that the correct amount of Housing Benefit/Council Tax Reduction is paid to the right people, at the right time. Honest Council Tax payers deserve and expect nothing less.