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5 Feb 2015

£660k paid to Staffordshire benefits cheats in 12 months

Benefit cheats in Staffordshire got away with more than £660,000 in overpayments in 12 months, new figures reveal.

Money was paid to dozens of people across Cannock and Stafford who were not entitled to receive the money over the past year.

More than 200 investigations were launched and 39 cases of fraud led to prosecutions.

Its comes ahead of the forming of the Single Fraud Investigation Service (SFIS), which will investigate claims across the country. It comes into force in July.

Of the 212 investigations during the period, 130 were launched in Cannock with 21 cases prosecuted by the district council. A total of £463,000 in benefit fraud was discovered.

The council's taxation and benefits manager, Rob Wolfe, said: "The two councils have a strong reputation for fraud prevention and investigation, particularly in the area of housing and council tax benefit."

During the 12-month period 80 of the 212 investigations were carried out by Stafford Borough Council and 18 cases ended up being taken to court. A total of £204,000 in benefit fraud was discovered.

Councillor Ken Williamson, cabinet member for resources at Stafford Borough Council said: “We are determined to prevent people cheating tax payers out of money they are not entitled to. It is unfair on all those people who do pay their dues - and if you do cheat the system you should expect to be caught and could face a prison sentence."

Councillor Williamson also appealed for people unsure of how to fill in forms or what benefits they could claim to get in touch with the council for advice to ensure they do not fall foul of the law.

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