Housing and Council Tax Benefit
What is Benefit Fraud?
Benefit fraud is where people claim Housing and Council Tax Benefit and/or Social Security Benefits but have no right to claim it.
The Council is keen to make prompt payments of Housing and Council Tax benefit to genuine claimants, but we are equally keen to stamp out benefit fraud. There is an active Investigation Team that is responsible for the detection and investigation of fraudulent claims.
To view the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) website "Targeting Benefit Thieves"
What types of fraud are there?
Typical examples of benefit fraud are:
- People who work but do not declare this when they claim benefit.
- People who claim from an address but do not live there.
- People who do not tell us the full amount of income, savings or capital when they claim benefit.
- People who for any reason do not have any right to claim Housing Benefit or Council Tax benefit.
Does the investigation team have access to other organisations?
The Investigation team has access to various anti-fraud organisations such as:
Local Authority Investigation Officers Group (LAIOG)
Approximately approximately 400 Local Authorities subscribe to the Local Authority Investigations Officers Group across England, Scotland and Wales. The group aims to provide its members with access to information from Parliamentary sources, the Department of Work and Pensions, Data Protection and the Benefit Fraud Inspectorate, which is relative to their fraud enquiries. http://www.laiog.org/
Benefit Fraud Inspectorate
The Benefit Fraud Inspectorate is now part of the Audit Commission.
National Fraud Initiative 2008/09
Since 1996 the Audit Commission has run the National Fraud Initiative (NFI), a sophisticated data matching exercise which matches electronic date within and between participating bodies to prevent and detect fraud.
This authority is required by law to protect the public funds it administers. It may share information provided to it with other bodies responsible for auditing or administering public funds, in order to prevent and detect fraud.
The Audit Commission appoints the auditor to audit the accounts of this authority. It is also responsible for carrying out data matching exercises.
Data Matching involves comparing computer records held by one body against other computer records held by the same or another body to see how far they match. This is usually personal information. Computerised data matching allows fraudulent claims and payments to be identified. Where a match is found it indicates that there is an inconsistency which requires further investigation. No assumption can be made as to whether there is fraud, error or other explanation until an investigation is carried out.
The Audit Commission currently requires us to participate in a data matching exercise to assist in the prevention and detection of fraud. The Audit Commission requires this authority to provide information it holds for this purpose. We are required to provide particular sets of data to the Audit Commission for matching for each exercise and these are set out in the Audit Commission's guidance, which can be found at www.audit-commission.gov.uk/nfi.
The use of data by the Audit Commission in a data matching exercise is carried out with statutory authority under its powers in Part 2A of the Audit Commission Act 1998.
It does not require the consent of the individuals concerned under the Data Protection Act 1998.
Data matching by the Audit Commission is subject to a Code of Practice. This may be found at www.audit-commission.gov.uk/nfi.
For Further information on the Audit Commission's legal powers and the reasons why it matches particular information, see http://www.audit-commission.gov.uk/nfi/. For further information on data matching at this authority contact firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 01200 414453.
National Anti Fraud Network (NAFN)
The aim of the network is to make available a national intelligence service to assist in deterring, detecting and preventing fraud. It also aims to provide a regular source of intelligence and focal points for Local Authorities on a wide range of fraud related matters.
Loss of benefits
The rules around loss of benefit entitlement following a benefit fraud offence changed and came into effect on 1 April 2010.
If you commit an offence for the first time resulting in a conviction, administrative penalty or caution, it will be subject to a 'One Strike' sanction. This means you could lose your right to continue receiving benefit payments for a four-week period. You will be notified if the 'One Strike' sanction is applied to your benefits. If you are convicted of two separate benefit fraud offences within five years, you may find your entitlement to certain benefits is reduced or withdrawn for an even longer period. This is known as the 'Two Strikes' sanction, and you'll be notified if it's applied to your benefits.
Benefits which can be withdrawn or reduced are called sanctionable benefits. These include but are not limited to:
- Employment and Support Allowance
- Housing Benefit
- Incapacity Benefit
- Income Support
- Jobseeker's Allowance
- Pension Credit
Disqualifying benefits are not sanctionable themselves, but benefit fraud offences involving them may lead to a loss of benefit sanction against other benefits. These disqualifying benefits include:
- Attendance Allowance
- Child Benefit
- Disability Living Allowance
- Retirement Pension
Some benefits, such as Tax Credits and Statutory Sick Pay, are not involved in the 'loss of benefit' sanction process at all.
If you are facing prosecution for benefit fraud or being asked to pay a penalty as an alternative to prosecution, it's a good idea to seek legal advice from a solicitor, or consult an experienced adviser. The Council cannot provide you legal advice or recommend a solicitor to you.
You can get advice from;
Lancashire County Council Welfare Rights Service
The Globe Centre
St James Square
Phone 0845 053 0013
Phone 01200 428966
Report Benefit Fraud
To report suspected fraud, you can ring the benefit fraud hotline on 01200 414465 where a trained member of staff will take any information you can provide. Calls are treated in absolute confidence. You can also ring the National Benefit Fraud Hotline on 0800 854 440 which is a free phone number. Or, you can complete the online Benefit Fraud Report Form
Pages in Housing and Council Tax Benefit
- What is Housing and Council Tax Benefit?
- How is Housing and Council Tax Benefit calculated?
- How to claim
- Current claim
- What is Second Adult Rebate?
- What is a discretionary housing payment?
- When will my Benefit be paid?
- What happens if I am awarded benefit and I have a change in my circumstances?
- You are here: Benefit Fraud
- What to do if you disagree with a decision
- The Valuation Office Agency (VOA)
- Local Housing Allowance (LHA)
- Information from the Department of Work & Pensions regarding changes to Housing Benefit from April 2011
- Housing Benefit Change for Some Single People
- Changes to the Benefit System as of April 2013