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Fraud Prevention and Detection Strategies
Reporting Fraud - Housing Benefit and/or Council Tax Benefit
Between April 2011 and March 2012 around £3.5 billion in all benefits was overpaid nationally due to fraud and error. Included in this figure is approximately £972 million in Housing Benefit. This is money that could have been spent on improving services for people in real need and it's your taxes that are being defrauded.
Fraudsters cost the Highland Council money each year in fraudulently claimed Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit.
The Highland Council is determined to stamp out fraud and has a dedicated counter fraud team. All investigations are carried out with integrity and in a professional manner by trained staff.
Benefit fraud is a criminal offence and if we think someone is fraudulently claiming benefit, we will investigate the circumstances. Where we suspect third party collusion, we will also investigate the third party, e.g. landlord, employer.
We have a close working relationship with the Department for Work and Pensions Fraud Investigation Service and frequently conduct joint investigations with them. We also have excellent links with Northern Constabulary.
If we have evidence that someone is committing benefit fraud, we can offer a formal caution, an administrative penalty or refer the case to the Procurator Fiscal with a view to prosecution. In all cases, the Highland Council will seek to recover the total amount of the overpaid benefits from the customer.
During the financial year 2011/12, the investigation team conducted investigations into 256 claimants. The total value of overpaid benefits identified as a result of these investigations amounted to £626,273.87. Sanctions were imposed in 72 cases - this included 27 Administrative Cautions, 10 Administrative Penalties and 35 cases passed to the Procurator Fiscal for consideration of the instigation of proceedings. 18 cases were determined during 2010/11 with outcomes ranging from custodial sentences and community service to Procurator Fiscal fines. There are currently 17 further cases still in the pipeline.
In all cases where an overpayment was identified the customer will have to repay the amount overpaid.
We need your help to combat benefit fraudsters. You can report benefit fraud via our online form.
Help Us to Help You
How can you help us in our fight against benefit crime?
Did you know that you may be committing a crime and may be prosecuted if you help people to lie to us?
SAY NO, if someone asks you to sign a tenancy agreement to say they are charged more rent they are paying.
SAY NO, if someone asks you to sign a letter stating that you are charging them rent when you are not.
SAY NO, if someone asks you to sign a form to say they earn less than you are paying them.
SAY NO, if someone asks you to lie for them in any way in connection with a claim for benefit.
If you suspect someone is committing Benefit Fraud call us FREE and in CONFIDENCE on our Benefits Fraud Hotline on 0800 854 183
or write to the:
Policy and Development – Investigations, Box 5650, Inverness, IV3 5YX
You do not have to provide your name and address.
The information that you provide is extremely important to us and it is always helpful to our investigators if you can provide as much information as possible; the more detail received, the more likely it is that the investigation will have a successful outcome.
All information received is treated in the strictest confidence.
We also provide information leaflets on Benefit Fraud, please see current documents section.