Council continues to expose benefits cheats

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Published Date: 

26 Jan 2011 - 16:37

Argyll and Bute Council is warning anyone trying to cheat the benefits system that they are likely to be tracked down and punished.

The warning came just days after two residents were prosecuted for claiming money to which they were not entitled.

Over the 18 months to September 30 last year, Argyll and Bute’s dedicated Counter Fraud Unit (CFU) continued to successfully uncover cases of benefit fraud.

During that time, three benefits cheats were successfully prosecuted by the council, a further 58 accepted formal cautions and nine others were issued with penalty fines.

Moreover a total of £176,942 of benefits was identified as being fraudulently claimed and is now being recovered.

These results further enhance the reputation of the council’s CFU which has previously been recognised by Audit Scotland as the top performing council in Scotland in terms of its sanction performance for 2007/2008, and was also praised for maintaining that level of performance through 2008/2009.

Commenting on the success, council leader Councillor Dick Walsh said: “The CFU is committed to ensuring that taxpayers’ money only goes to those who are entitled to it, and to taking tough action against those who try to make fraudulent claims.

“It is shocking that some people seem to think that they can cheat the system by claiming benefit to which they are not entitled. This obviously has financial repercussions for the honest taxpayer, and we are determined to do all we can to prevent it, including prosecuting offenders.

“Members of the public can help in our efforts, and I would urge anyone who suspects such a fraud anywhere in Argyll and Bute to call the fraud line on 0800 854 440 or report it online at www.argyll-bute.gov.uk in the benefit fraud pages under ‘Council and Government Services’. Confidentiality is of course respected at all times”.

Those prosecuted most recently by the council include:

A 68 year old man from Helensburgh who admitted failing to notify the council of the fact that he was receiving a private pension, and raked in a total of £3,744 in Housing and Council Tax Benefit to which he was not entitled. Sentence was deferred to allow him time to repay the cash.

  • A 34 year old woman from Sandbank, Dunoon who failed to tell both the council and the DSS that she had started work at a local call centre in August 2007. As well as having to pay back the £912 she had falsely claimed, she was also fined £225.