The Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support schemes are paid for by taxpayers' money and therefore the cost of benefit fraud is being paid out of taxpayers' pockets - your pocket.
South Ribble Borough Council is committed to paying Housing Benefit and/or Council Tax Support to those people who have a genuine entitlement, however people who commit benefit fraud are costing the taxpayer millions of pounds right across the northwest of England.
Local authorities across the region are working together to crack down on benefit fraud with dedicated investigators working on your behalf to make sure that people who commit fraud are stopped.
South Ribble Borough Council is committed to protecting public funds by ensuring that Housing Benefit and/or Council Tax Support is paid to the right person, at the right amount and at the right time. We will prosecute/sanction benefit cheats in line with our Benefit Fraud Prosecution Policy and recover any overpaid monies.
What is benefit fraud?
Claiming benefit that you are not entitled to either by deliberately giving false information when making a claim or failing to report a relevant change in your circumstances once benefit is in payment.
What will happen if I make a fraudulent claim?
An investigation will be carried out into the circumstances of your claim to verify the information you have given. You may be interviewed under caution to enable you to give your version of events. If the authority has enough evidence to prove that you have given false information or failed to declare a relevant change in your circumstances, you may be liable to a financial penalty or criminal prosecution. Any overpayment of benefit/support will have to be repaid.
Will someone who reports a benefit cheat see immediate action?
Investigations can take some time and it is not always possible to see what action is being taken. The law states that we must keep information we hold about people confidential, so we are unable to discuss our actions with the person who reported the fraud. All allegations are checked for quality of information and investigated accordingly. Investigations that result in a prosecution are publicised in the local press, our website and the council paper Forward.
If I report someone, will I be asked for my details?
You do not have to give this information if you don't want to. Sometimes it is helpful if the investigator can contact you in order to clarify any information that has been given. Any information that is given is dealt with in the strictest of confidence.
Does the investigation team have access to other organisations?
The investigation team uses a multi-agency approach in investigations, which could include liaising with other councils, The Department for Work and Pensions and the Police.
There are various types of offence that can be committed such as:
- Working and claiming - where a claimant is receiving Housing and Council Tax Benefit and or Income Support or Job Seekers Allowance because they say they are not working, when in fact they do have a job
- Undeclared Capital or Property - where the claimant fails to declare either savings or capital or the ownership of other property.
- Undeclared Income - where the claimant fails to declare they are receiving an additional income such as another benefit, a private pension or rental from a property they own.
- Undeclared partner - where the claimant fails to declare they have a partner living with them, when in fact they do.
- Undeclared non - dependant or sub tenant - where the claimant fails to declare the presence of another adult in the property.
- Contrived Tenancy -where the Landlord is a parent or other relative and no commercial agreement exists. False rent books and tenancy agreements are provided.
- Non residency - making a claim for benefit on a property that you do not live in.
- Collusion - where a claimant and a landlord set up a fictitious tenancy in order to claim benefit, or an employer and a claimant agree to provide false wage details to increase the amount of benefit received. There are many other types of benefit fraud, remember if you suspect that someone is claiming benefit that they are not entitled to for any reason let us know.