Benefit cheats conned Bolton taxpayers out of £850,000 last year
BENEFIT cheats conned Bolton Council out of almost £850,000 between 2012 and 2013, new figures have shown.
Council chiefs have clawed back more than £586,000 of overpaid benefits but the authority is still £214,000 out of pocket.
Data released by the Audit Commission has shown there were more than 1,000 cases of people making fraudulent claims for benefits from the council.
Between April, 2012, and April, 2013, there were 576 cases of detected fraud for housing and council tax benefit, worth £516,721, and 469 people falsely claiming discounts for council tax, conning the council out of £331,195.
The number of detected cases is up six per cent compared with the previous year, while the value of recovery is also up two per cent on 2011/12.
A spokesman for Bolton Council said: “The council is committed to protecting public finds and bringing benefit cheats to justice.
“In 2012-13, we conducted 33 successful prosecutions for council tax and housing benefit fraud.
“Some of these were joint prosecutions working with our partners in the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), as the benefit cheats were not only stealing from the local authority but from the national benefit system as well.
“We also issued 33 administrative penalties and 30 simple cautions, which are an alternative to a prosecution.”
A report to Bolton Council’s audit committee stated that the council also works closely with social landlords Bolton at Home to investigate tenants who may be breaking the law.
During the past year the social landlord investigated 89 allegations of fraud including false Right to Buy applications; incorrect information being used to obtain a home; and sub-letting.
Bolton at Home has investigated nearly 200 cases and recovered more than 40 properties from people who had lied to get them.
A spokesman said: “We tackle fraudulent tenancies head on and recover unlawfully occupied properties for those who need them.
“A person who commits tenancy fraud effectively steals a home from someone who is waiting on the housing register.
“If someone suspects tenancy fraud, they can report it in confidence at their neighbourhood housing office or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.”
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