Benefit fraud cost Hertsmere Borough Council almost £300k over nine months

Watford Observer: Benefit fraud cost council £300k last year Benefit fraud cost council £300k last year

A council has paid out nearly £300,000 to fraudulent benefit claimants in nine months, which prompted a councillor to say the only way to avoid this in the future is to abolish benefits.

A report produced by Hertsmere Borough Council’s Anti-Fraud Unit revealed that from the beginning of the financial year until the end of November, the council overpaid £278,761.

The report was put before the council’s audit committee on Monday night at the council offices in Borehamwood.

Between April and August 31 last year the council investigated 137 claims, identifying 100 of them as an overpayment.

Eight people were taken to court between September and the end of November last year, with seven successfully prosecuted. They also issued 19 cautions.

One of the prosecutions was a man who received a 32 week suspended sentence for failing to declare a change of circumstances, a change in his income, and his wife’s work leading to him being overpaid approximately £10,000 in Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit.

Another man was sentenced to 200 hours of unpaid work after failing to tell the council he had left his address, resulting in him receiving almost £7,000 of benefits to which he was not entitled.

The chairman of the audit committee Councillor Paul Hodgson- Jones said: "The sad truth is that there will always be greedy people who try to gain money under false pretences.

"Benefit fraud is not a victimless crime - it is theft, and it is our residents from whom they are stealing. The selfish actions of a few criminals represent a burden borne by every family in the borough.

"The only way to eliminate benefit fraud altogether is by abolishing benefits. Meanwhile, we in Hertsmere will do our best to identify and punish such criminal activity.

Finance and Property Portfolio Holder Councillor John Graham said: "It is disappointing to see the level of fraud being committed but pleasing, from the council’s perspective, to see the success we are having in finding the frauds."

The council currently has 96 allocated or active fraud cases, and a further 190 cases that are pending potential allocation.

Comments (3)

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9:07pm Wed 15 Jan 14

dontknowynot says...

and any idea of how much went unclaimed or under-claimed sadly it is the case that this figure far exceeds the over-claimed.
Also the figure of 300K is I suspect not that great & I could envisage individuals fiddleing far more, plus on a day when Osbourne seems set to sign of Bankers bonuses of 200% it might be an idea to find a local Bankster who is getting 500K of our money.
I suppose thou that may require some work and would be harder than a bit of benefit recipient bashing
and any idea of how much went unclaimed or under-claimed sadly it is the case that this figure far exceeds the over-claimed. Also the figure of 300K is I suspect not that great & I could envisage individuals fiddleing far more, plus on a day when Osbourne seems set to sign of Bankers bonuses of 200% it might be an idea to find a local Bankster who is getting 500K of our money. I suppose thou that may require some work and would be harder than a bit of benefit recipient bashing dontknowynot

9:15pm Wed 15 Jan 14

dontknowynot says...

Plus the headline is extremely misleading over-payment does not equal fraud, only 25 were shown or acknowledged as fraud so the figure is considerably less with the other hundred plus cases being mistake.
Plus the headline is extremely misleading over-payment does not equal fraud, only 25 were shown or acknowledged as fraud so the figure is considerably less with the other hundred plus cases being mistake. dontknowynot

11:59am Thu 16 Jan 14

not a regular says...

What we actually need is a simpler version of welfare, not to "abolish benefits". More complexity means more loopholes and a greater opportunity for fraud.

For example a citizen's income whereby we have one flat rate of tax and zero benefits, with the exception that every native (or nationalised) adult recieves a certain income from the state which is determined to be enough to live on with the very basics.

Very few loopholes, very few opportunities to play the system. Encourages working the hours that YOU want to work, as taking a job would not mean your benefits are stopped.
What we actually need is a simpler version of welfare, not to "abolish benefits". More complexity means more loopholes and a greater opportunity for fraud. For example a citizen's income whereby we have one flat rate of tax and zero benefits, with the exception that every native (or nationalised) adult recieves a certain income from the state which is determined to be enough to live on with the very basics. Very few loopholes, very few opportunities to play the system. Encourages working the hours that YOU want to work, as taking a job would not mean your benefits are stopped. not a regular

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