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Tuesday, 02 September 2014

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Benefit cheats cost Barrow tax payers £80,000

FRAUDSTERS cost Barrow rate payers £1,500 a week this year.

Figures obtained by the Evening Mail under the Freedom of Information Act show Barrow Borough Council overpaid nearly £80,000 due to housing benefit and council tax benefit fraud. Since 2005 it has overpaid almost £452,000.

Council treasurer Mohamad Saleh said most of the overpayment was due to people giving false information about their circumstances.

He said: “They fill in a form saying they haven’t got a job and then when they do get a job they don’t notify the council.

“People declare that they live on their own and claim a single person discount on council tax, but actually have people living with them.”

Ten people were prosecuted for benefit fraud by the council in the last year, with 14 cautioned.

Of 217 cases that were referred to the council, 91 were investigated.

Money that was overpaid was recovered from fraudsters but could take a long time to recoup as people paid in instalments, said Mr Saleh.

He added the amount overpaid was a small percentage of the council’s £20m benefits bill each year.

He said: “It is still fraud and we do what we can to stop it.

“Definitely, it is still a lot of money for a small council, but when you put it in the overall picture of how much we pay in benefits, it’s not that big.”

Despite the economically difficult times, benefit fraud was not on the rise among residents, he said.

The figures showed that since 2005 the number of investigations of fraud by Barrow Borough Council had decreased from 376.

Mr Saleh said in extreme cases people could be sent to prison for defrauding the council, although he could not remember this happening in Barrow.

He encouraged anyone who knew someone who was fraudulently claiming benefits to tell the council.

A report by the Audit Commission this year showed fraud cost local authorities in England £135m in 2010.

Have your say

Yes Barrow borough council may have paid out £80,000 in housing benefit & council tax fraud but in reality the finger should not be directed at any of the claimants.
Under the present circumstances a lot of claimants are having their benefits stopped due to government cutbacks & some claimants are having to endure a means test.
So with that being the case it is perfectly understandable as to why people who do obtain some degree of employment do not inform the authorities or when they say they're claiming to be living alone when they have people living with them.
Fact-claimants are NOT the problem!
Fact-the real fraudsters are as follows!
The real benefit cheats are media moguls like Rupert Murdoch who have billions stashed away in some offshore bank account.
More benefit cheats are the boss's of all the energy & water companies who are on six figure salaries each year.
Rich share holders in these companies are also-perfectly legal-benefit cheats as well!
Don't attack claimants!

Posted by Charlie on 2 January 2012 at 13:41

And what about some of the cheats who are near the top of the tree when it comes to what is essentially fraud.I am talking about the people who have empty and boarded up properties all over town,are they paying the dues they should be on these properties that are creating eyesores?.

Posted by Ram on 18 December 2011 at 13:28

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