Benefit cheats investigated by City Council

Over 200 cases of possible housing benefit fraud were investigated by City of Lincoln Council in the past year, according to figures obtained by The Lincolnite.

There are around 11,000 housing benefit claimants in Lincoln.

Out of the 203 investigations for 2010/11, 71 individuals were sanctioned: 24 were convicted of fraud, 21 given administration penalty charges, and 26 given cautions.

The number of council investigations into possible housing benefit fraud has dropped significantly.

In 2009/10, 320 cases were investigated, resulting in 81 sanctions. Some Lincolnites have also been caught out for evading Council Tax.

For 2010/11, 236 people in the city had their Single Person Discount removed, generating £58,000 for the council purse in additional Council Tax revenue.

Last week Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, published ten tips for local councils on tackling council fraud.

The government estimates that fraud costs British councils £2 billon per year.

John Scott, Audit Manager at the City of Lincoln Council, said: “The national guidelines are considered best practice and the council has either addressed or is reviewing the areas outlined within the ten point plan compiled for Eric Pickles by the National Fraud Authority.

“We actively manage the council’s key fraud risks, including Housing Benefit fraud and Council Tax evasion.

“We have a specialist Housing Benefit fraud investigation team, an internal audit team and we also work in partnership with the County Council’s specialist Counter Fraud Team to prevent and detect fraud.”

Photo: Department for Work and Pensions