The Council is required by law to protect the public funds it administers, to prevent and detect fraud and deter bribery and corruption in all areas of the Council’s work.

The Council employs dedicated Counter Fraud and Enforcement Officers to investigate allegations of fraud and abuse and to assist in maximising revenue and loss avoidance.

The Counter Fraud and Enforcement Unit is a shared service which provides specialist officers to investigate all allegations of internal and external fraud. This can include abuse and misconduct by staff or Councillors as well as external attempts by the general public; such as housing and tenancy fraud, council tax support and discount fraud, misuse of grant funding and other financial loss to the Council.

The council takes benefit theft very seriously. Most people who claim benefits are honest, those who do commit benefit theft are picking the pockets of law-abiding taxpayers.

All benefit theft is a crime and those found breaking the law face a criminal record.

As part of our ongoing approach, we are committed to making benefit theft harder to get away with and we are determined to detect and catch benefit thieves.

The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) has targets for reducing the amount of money lost through benefit theft.

We have an obligation to investigate housing benefit and council tax reduction fraud. To help us to achieve this we have professionally trained fraud investigators with powers to investigate people suspected of committing housing benefit and council tax reduction offences and who can undertake interviews under caution in the same way as police.

Everyone who commits benefit fraud is a benefit thief.

Many people assume that benefit theft applies only to those who are working for cash in hand while claiming housing and council tax reduction. This is not the case. All benefit theft is crime.

Benefit theft includes

  • Not telling us that you are now living with a partner or any other changes in your household.
  • Not telling us that you are receiving any benefits.
  • Not telling us that you are receiving other benefits.
  • Not telling us about any savings or not telling us the right amount.
  • Claiming for children who have left home.
  • Not telling us that you have started work, or about any increase in earnings or private pension.
  • Not telling us that you have inherited money.
  • Not telling us that you are going abroad, living abroad, or have changed address.

There are no exceptions. People who knowingly withhold information or deliberately fail to report a change in their circumstances are benefit thieves.

Failure to declare the above changes in circumstances promptly with their council tax reduction claim could result in an automatic penalty of £70. More serious failures could result in larger financial penalties.

How to report fraud

If you suspect that someone is committing benefit fraud you should report them straight away. There are a number of ways you can do this:

  • Phone our fraud team.
  • Write to us.
  • Report it online. Anything you send into us is confidential and we never reveal the source of the information.

You can also call the National Benefit Fraud Hotline to report benefit fraud to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP):