We have a duty to ensure that Benefit payments are made only to those who are actually entitled to receive them and that the correct amount is paid.
For that reason, we have our own Investigation section whose duties include:
- detecting fraudulent claims;
- stopping and reducing payment in fraudulent cases;
- sanction of offenders - see Benefit Fraud Prosecution Guidelines for further details.
The team work closely with Investigators from the Department for Work and Pensions. Investigators use a variety of 'tools' including data matching to identify and investigate fraudulent claims.
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 / capital
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. (eg A private pension).
Non-disclosure of partner (living together as husband and wife)
This involves a claimant failing 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
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 property.
Failing to declare change of address
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.
For further information:
Contact: Benefits Investigation Team, Town Hall, Penrith CA11 7QF
Telephone: Confidential Hotline 01768 212238
Fax: 01768 212140