14 Dec 2013

Benefit fraud in Swindon

Benefit fraudsters have been ordered to pay back nearly £1m to Swindon council over the last three years, according to new figures revealed this week.

A Freedom of Information request has uncovered that between 2010/11 and this month Swindon Council has managed to recover about £995,114 by tracking down people cheating the system.

In 2010/11 the authority caught 59 people, of whom 20 were prosecuted, while the following year 36 people received sanctions, with eight people going in front of a judge.

During 2012/13, 37 residents were tracked down, leading to 17 prosecutions. So far this year there have been 14 sanctions, of which nine cases resulted in prosecutions.

Sanctions included cautions, administrative penalties and court action.

The council reviews allegations made via a fraud hotline and cases that are highlighted by data matching with records held by many different local and central government departments.

Officers interview witnesses and people suspected of committing benefit fraud.

If the matter is a first offence and a small value, and the person admits they should have advised the council of a change in their circumstances, the offender will probably be issued with a caution or an administrative penalty.

Cases put forward for prosecution are passed to the Crown Prosecution Service.

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