City Council continues to clamp down on benefit fraud

Winchester City Council is continuing to take firm action against people who commit benefit fraud.

Between April 2009 and March 2010, the City Council uncovered Housing and Council Tax Benefit fraud totalling £89,460. In total, seven people have been successfully prosecuted, fourteen have received a formal caution, and three have received fines. Those who have been found to be claiming benefits that they are not entitled to are also required to pay back the money.

The City Council is able to call on a range of powers to help identify benefits fraud. This includes surveillance of suspected fraudsters; authority to check customer details including investments, savings and bank accounts; full credit checks; and investigation of inconsistencies in utility bills. The Council also has a close working relationship with the police, other local authorities, the Department of Work and Pensions, and the courts.

Cllr Kelsie Learney, Leader of Winchester City Council, said: "The benefits system exists to help those who are most in need. The City Council is determined to ensure that benefits are only claimed by those who are entitled to them. We investigate all cases of suspected fraud and we will continue to take firm action against anyone who is found to be abusing the system."

Recent cases have included:

  • A couple with two children failing to declare they were both working – both were given a custodial sentence due to the fact they had been prosecuted 14 months earlier for similar offences.

  • A married woman failed to declare capital over the capital limits – was given a suspended sentence.

  • Two cases of single mothers failing to declare their partner was living with them and working full time – both were given a custodial sentence.

  • A single parent failing to declare a return to work after period of sickness – was issue with a fine

  • A married woman with one child failing to declare starting work – was given a fine

  • A married woman with three children failing to declare employment – was given a fine

Other cases that attracted fines or formal cautions included:

  • A number of cases of failing to declare employment

  • A couple who both failed to declare return to work after period of sick leave

  • Failure to declare increase in earnings

  • Failure to declare a working partner is living with them

If you suspect that someone is committing Housing or Council Tax benefit fraud, please contact the City Council’s fraud hotline on 01962 848 306.