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2 Dec 2014

Dundee updates its benefit fraud figures

Fraud investigations at Dundee City Council were down, now they're up, apparently.

The number of fraud allegations received by Dundee City Council has increased by 25% over the last year. 769 cases of alleged fraud have been referred to the council investigation team this year — compared to 611 cases for the same period last year.

A breakdown of the figures showed 617 were in relation to social security benefit, 39 referrals were for housing tenancy fraud, 18 for blue badge misuse and 92 in relation to the council tax.

The local authority has completed 119 investigations into social security fraud so far this year, 45 of which have resulted in a reduction or termination of benefits. This marks a decrease from the same period last year, which saw 153 investigations completed and 60 cases resulting in benefit amounts being reduced or terminated.

Around £276,000 worth of overpayments have been identified, including around £130,000 in relation to housing or council tax benefit. The council has also carried out 55 investigations into corporate fraud — which includes council tax, tenancy and blue badges — identifying 23 cases.

Around £31,000 of additional council tax revenue and £8,000 in increased parking revenue were identified as a result.

Director of corporate services Marjory Stewart said:
The benefits counter-fraud unit has continued to widen its scope of investigative work. This has resulted in counter-fraud officers investigating identified high-risk areas including the council tax reduction scheme, council tax discounts and exemptions, housing tenancy and blue badge. The number of fraud allegations received by the council has increased by 25% in comparison to the previous year. This is a direct result of corporate fraud work.
In total, 16 cases were referred to the procurator fiscal in relation to benefit fraud, one in relation to blue badge and one in relation to council tax fraud.

Seven cases resulted in guilty verdicts, one in a not guilty verdict, two in administrative penalties and two in administrative cautions.

Recovery of overpayments has either been made or is ongoing in around 75% of benefit fraud cases and in 65% of cases the overpayment has been paid in full.

In 10% of cases deductions are being taken from ongoing benefit entitlement but debtors have failed to put repayment procedures in place in 12% of cases —and 11% of cases have been written off.

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