West Suffolk stops nearly 300 council tax fraudsters in one year
- Credit: Archant
Nearly 300 people were stopped from fraudulently claiming single person council tax discount in west Suffolk, new data reveals.
Figures published by West Suffolk Council revealed that 299 cases were identified in the 2019/20 financial year, which amounted to £240,362 the authority prevented from being lost.
The council said that figure was £130,000 more than recovered last year by the Anglia Revenues Partnership fraud team, which administers council tax billing, collection and debt recovery on behalf of the authority.
A council spokeswoman said: “The prevention of single person discount fraud is taken very seriously by West Suffolk Council and Suffolk County Council who, as the largest beneficiary of the council tax raised in West Suffolk, have made funding available to Anglia Revenues Partnership specifically to enable this work to be carried out.
“West Suffolk Council participates in the National Fraud Initiative (NFI) mandatory annual data matching exercise where council tax data is matched against the electoral register.
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“Where there is a mismatch of information held on a council tax account with a single person discount showing that more than one adult is registered at the property this is highlighted and the discount is reviewed by the fraud and compliance team. The discount is removed where evidence supports the data match or the customer confirms there has been a change in the household.
“The fraud and compliance team also review all newly awarded single person discounts to confirm that customers are entitled to continue their entitlement to the discount.”
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Elsewhere, there were 36 cases of ineligible council tax reductions identified totalling more than £28,000, while 97 cases of suspected housing benefit fraud were referred to the Single Fraud Investigation Service – a collection of bodies nationally which investigates suspicious claims.
Other figures presented to West Suffolk Council’s audit and performance committee included four social housing properties being recovered, and nearly 40 properties being found not to be on the council tax database.
Estimates by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance suggest that fraud costs local government £2.1billion per year nationwide.