August 17, 2011 12.00 pm This story is over 121 months old

Councils bid to stop city tax fraud

Closing in: Local authorities are giving benefit fraudsters an opportunity to come clean without penalty until September.

City of Lincoln Council and North Kesteven District Council have joined powers to make sure no resident is mistakenly claiming a single person’s Council Tax discount before a fraud clampdown.

From September 5, as part of the new joint revenues and benefits service, the two councils will examine cases anyone claiming the tax discount.

In North Kesteven, 13,703 of 47,000 households currently claim the discount while in Lincoln, it’s around 16,000 households out of 43,000 homes.

The councils are offering a “grace period” before September however to allow residents to be honest and come clean without large charges.

The checks will help make sure people are claiming what they are entitled to, and will cross reference all databases to identify cases.

NKDC’s Executive Board Member Geoff Hazelwood, who’s responsible for revenues and benefits areas, said: “We believe most discounts are claimed honestly and legitimately but we know there are times when a household’s circumstances change and people forget to tell us that their eligibility to a discount should have ended.

“While we want to crack down on fraudulent claims we still want to ensure that everyone gets the discounts they are entitled to, so please contact us soon to double-check your entitlements.

“There is a minority who believe they can cheat the system and claim discounts they know they’re not entitled to, which is unfair on everyone else and we intend to catch them through these checks.

“If you do receive a discount which you think you should no longer receive, this is your final chance to contact us about it, before we contact you.”

Where there is a household with only one adult resident, the authorities offer a 25% discount on Council Tax.

It’s a legal requirement for residents to inform the authorities if their circumstances change, else they could face a £70 fine and be ordered to pay a set amount back.

The last time the City of Lincoln Council checked individuals claiming the benefit, 4.3% out of 15,527 were fraudulent, and NK found 2.9%.

Residents can call their local council about their claims on 01522 873355 for Lincoln or 01529 414155 for North Kesteven.

Benefit entitlements can also be checked online.

Photo: Duncan C

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